Minnesota Law Review

Note, Relative Futility: Limits to Genetic Privacy Protection Because of the Inability to Prevent Disclosure of Genetic Information by Relatives

The Note considers possible limits to reasonable expectations of genetic privacy given that people share their DNA sequences with their relatives. Most scholars and members of the general public believe that an individual’s DNA sequence is an intensely personal matter and that access to this information should be tightly controlled. The Note considers both legal means by which it might be possible to protect genetic privacy, including recent statutory approaches such as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and reasons why individuals might want to keep genetic information private. It also examines situations in which genetic privacy might have negative consequences, as when keeping genetic information confidential might prevent relatives from being tested or treated for diseases for which they are also at risk. The Note also examines limits to genetic privacy, including the fact that genetic information is a shared attribute with DNA sequences shared by relatives, and technologies that have increased the ability to identify the source of DNA samples obtained for research and forensic purposes.

The Note argues that, rather than focusing attention on attempts to protect genetic privacy itself, legislative efforts should instead be directed toward preventing the greater harm of genetic discrimination in employment and insurance settings. It suggests that one way to halt improper uses of personal genetic information would, by analogy to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, allow individuals to determine who had obtained access to their personal genetic information and the reasons this access had been sought. By bringing uses of genetic information into the open, individuals should be empowered to reduce the use of genetic information for discriminatory purposes, even if complete confidentiality cannot be maintained.

:: View PDF

News & Events

  • Minnesota Law Review Alum Remembered 45 Years After Death

    Minnesota Law Review alumnus Tom Cranna was honored at the Annual Banquet this Spring, 45 years after his death. Mr. Cranna was remembered for his contributions to the journal, the school, and the positive impact he had on his family and friends. The Devil’s Lake Journal published a memorial which [...]

  • Follow MLR on Twitter!

    The Minnesota Law Review is proud to announce that we are now on Twitter. Follow us @MinnesotaLawRev for information and updates concerning the petition period and deadlines, the opening and closing of article submissions, our 2014 Symposium: Offenders in the Community, and all other news concerning our authors and publications. [...]

  • Vol. 97 Lead Piece Cited in Al Jazeera Opinion Piece

    A recent Al Jazeera opinion piece that criticizes the Supreme Court’s Daimler decision cites to Volume 97′s lead piece, How Business Fares in the Supreme Court. You can read the Al Jazeera piece here. Share this: on Twitter on Facebook on Google+

  • Masthead for Volume 99 Board

    The masthead for the Board of Volume 99 of the Minnesota Law Review is now available. You can view the masthead here. Share this: on Twitter on Facebook on Google+

  • Above the Law Post Highlights MLR‘s Jump in Journal Rankings

    A recent post on Above the Law highlights the fact that the Minnesota Law Review was ranked 11th in the most recent 2013 edition of the Washington & Lee Law Review Rankings. You can read the post here. Share this: on Twitter on Facebook on Google+


cforms contact form by delicious:days