First, Encryption, Now DNA: Annoying, Marketing, or Taunting?

March 14, 2019

I read “Home DNA-Testing Firm Will Let Users Block FBI Access to Their Data.” I came away asking myself, “Is this outfit just annoying government authorities or taunting them? Or, maybe the company wants to look good from a PR point of view?”

Australia introduced regulations which require that companies doing business in the country cooperated with law enforcement when it comes to accessing data on encrypted services. That initiative is likely to be watched closely by those in the Five Eyes. In fact, DarkCyber thinks that the Australian move is a trial balloon. Decryption is a contentious issues, and Facebook has suggested that it will embrace privacy. Some in the enforcement sector rely on Facebook data, and if those data become unreadable, that will spark some discussion. The key point is that Australia took regulatory action.

When the no DNA for the FBI story crossed my desk, I thought about the implications. China has addressed the DNA sampling issue directly. In once geographic area, people have to show up and provide a sample. Fail to cooperate? That action will not generate positive points on the individual’s social credit score.

DNA information is available or obtainable. I want to add “in one way or another.”

The issue is control and access. The use of DNA data is fairly straightforward. DNA may answer the question, “Whom should be investigate?”

The write up states:

The combination of genetic data from home DNA-testing kits and family tree databases has allowed individuals to find relatives by matching DNA, but has also opened a new way for police to solve crimes. Police used the technique last year to identify the man thought to be behind a series of murders in California during the 1970s.

But the company was cooperating. Now a “procedure” must be followed.

Mixed signals, push back, a concern for customer privacy, or PR? The more interesting question is, “Is the company poking pointy sticks into the backs of government authorities.” Will compliance regulations emerge from one of the Five Eyes?

Stephen E Arnold, March 14, 2019


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