Illegal Genes

California mulls a state law that would criminalize the unauthorized sharing, storing, or analyzing of genetic data.

By | April 30, 2012

Wikimedia Commons

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Late last week, a committee within the California State Senate passed legislation that would protect the genetic information of the state's residents, according to GenomeWeb. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the California Genetic Information Privacy Act, which would levy civil and/or criminal penalties against anyone who collected, stored, or analyzed genetic material or information from Californians without their consent.

"As genetic testing becomes more accessible there is an increased risk of this information being used without consent," state Senator Alex Padilla, who introduced the bill, said in a statement. "We have laws to protect the privacy of our financial information, our medical records, and even the books we check out from the local library. We need genetic privacy protections because nothing is more personal than our DNA."

The bill, which will now move on to California's Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration, comes on the heels of a genetic anti-discrimination bill that the state passed last year. That state law, which makes it illegal to discriminate against a California citizen based on their genetic makeup, mirrors the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, passed in 2008. Last year, Massachusetts also passed a "Genetic Bill of Rights."

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