Scientists propose national DNA database

(BLOOMBERG) A group of medical researchers have a counterintuitive proposal for shielding people’s most intimate personal data from prying eyes.

Share more of it, they say. A lot more of it.

In a new paper published in the journal Science on Thursday, researchers suggest that the best way to protect genetic information might be for all Americans to deposit their data in a universal, nationwide DNA database. The paper is being published by Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Center for Genetic Privacy and Identity in Community Settings, a major center for the study of genetic privacy.

Concerns about who can gain access to genetic information gathered by consumer genetic-testing websites has been on the climb since April, when police made an arrest in a decades-old serial-murder case in California. To ensnare the alleged Golden State Killer, investigators trawled an open-source database popular with genealogy hobbyists to search for relatives of possible suspects. Police found matches, and then got their man.

If enhancing privacy by creating a giant database of people’s DNA sounds counterintuitive, the group’s point is that it’s already too late to prevent mass exposure.

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