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Google and Amazon want to store your DNA in the cloud


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(NaturalNews) In the scramble between the mega-information-monopolies to control every aspect of your life, Amazon and Google are now vying with each other to own your DNA. Well, maybe not exactly own it -- at least not yet, anyway -- but they want to store it in the cloud and, as far as I'm concerned, that's essentially the same thing.

Here's the background story: Scientists and healthcare companies want to store human genome sequences for various reasons. One is research into diseases and their genomic roots; another is the development of what has been dubbed "personalized medicine," but whatever the reason, storing genomic sequences is already an industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and is likely to become a billion-dollar cash cow soon, and both Amazon and Google want a piece of it.

These individual sequences require an enormous amount of storage; a single person's raw genome data is 100 gigabytes in size, although apparently "polished" versions can be created that use less than a gigabyte of storage space.

So what does all this mean?

Well, firstly, I'm not advocating that all genomic research and sequencing should be scrapped. And of course the data has to be stored somewhere, and the current storage options are not as secure as the cloud services that Google and Amazon are offering:

From Reuters:

"Another selling point is security. Universities are 'generally pretty porous,' said Ryan Permeh, chief scientist at cybersecurity company Cylance Inc., of Irvine, California, and the security of federal government computers is 'not at the top of the class.'"

But just how "secure" is the cloud? If there's anything we have learned over the years that the Internet has been around, it's that no database is 100 percent secure.

And I think there are other huge implications regarding these developments, especially when you consider the fact that these companies are offering not only to store the data, but to analyze it themselves.

"Google Genomics"?

I don't know about you, but I don't really want Google or Amazon analyzing my DNA, no matter how well they can do it. And it seems that they are already offering this "service" in addition to their cloud genome storage.

From TechnologyReview.com:

Google began work on Google Genomics 18 months ago, meeting with scientists and building an interface, or API, that lets them move DNA data into its server farms and do experiments there using the same database technology that indexes the Web and tracks billions of Internet users.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I really don't like the sound of a "Google Genomics" division.

What we need to keep in mind is that an individual's genome is very personal, and access to it could mean many things. Okay, it will be some time before scientists can actually make a clone of you, but that capability being realized may not be all that far in the future, either.

The immediate implications are that anyone who has access to your genome data can reveal a lot about you: your predisposition to certain diseases, for one thing -- or even perhaps your behavior.

We need to be extremely careful when deciding who should have access to this type of information and what they can do with it. The technology is developing so rapidly that the ethical and security implications are not being adequately addressed, in my humble opinion.

And these scientists, drug companies, insurance companies -- and now even Google and Amazon -- are already trying to get their greedy hands on your DNA. And the funny thing is, not one of the news articles I found on the subject make any mention of the possible negatives involved.

So you tell me, am I overreacting, or does this spook the bejesus out of you, too?

Sources:

http://www.technologyreview.com

http://www.reuters.com

http://www.the-scientist.com

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