I am intrigued by a story in the New York Times (Jan 17, 2013), about someone who was able to use anonymous genetic data posted online to determine the identities of the those whose dna sequences were published.

The implication is that disseminating genomic data will compromise individual privacy unless a strong security protocol is developed. But hampering access to genomic data will slow medical research and discovery.

This incident means that it’s time to consider the ramifications, both positive and negative, of having genomes easily and widely distributed and accessed. My sense is that we, as a society, are approaching a tipping point where our willingness to share via social media and networks is overcoming what we fear by losing our personal privacy. The trend seems to be moving strongly in the direction of transparency. Indeed, we may have little choice in this matter. The technology is here and will be used.

Just as freeing the atom has engendered both good and evil, so will freeing the genome. We will need to adapt.