The WA Genome Project will build on the population records collected by the state over the past 30 years, and linked together through new database technology. It will include all births, deaths, hospitalisations and mental health service contacts, along with cancer and other disease registries. The implications are massive for individuals who might be identified and who could risk being discriminated against by organisations such as health insurers and employers.While there are no doubt many important research uses for such a database, it's not that far from a genetic database to the ethical problems explored in GATTACA. As the article continues:
But while data may be "de-identified", Senator Stott Despoja says the there are problems, especially when talking about small communities. "We know from previous experience that de-identified does not always mean unidentifiable," she said. "Until we have genetic privacy laws in place, the issue of ownership and use of that information is questionable."At a time in Australia when even the meaning of 'terrorist' can extended to peaceful protestors, iron-clad laws are required before biobanks become bureaucratic tools of persecution.
[Tags: privacy | gattaca | genetics | genomics | australia | westernaustralia]