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Weekly News Digest

October 18, 2018 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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Study Reveals That DNA May Not Be Anonymous

In the WIRED article “Genome Hackers Show No One’s DNA Is Anonymous Anymore,” author Megan Molteni says that people’s DNA information may be openly available on geneology websites. Companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry have created profiles for more than 12 million people who use their services, and these customers download their information and can then choose to add it to public sites, such as GEDmatch. However, interlocking family trees based on this information have grown so large that they can be used to connect more than half of the U.S. population. This is reinforced by a study in Science claiming that 60% of Americans with European heritage can be identified through their DNA using open genealogy databases whether or not they have ever had their DNA profiled.

“The takeaway is it doesn’t matter if you’ve been tested or not tested,” says Yaniv Erlich, who led the study. “You can be identified because the databases already cover such large fractions of the US, at least for European ancestry.”

Molteni says that Erlich and his co-authors have made recommendations to help keep this information safe: “They urged the US Department of Human Services to revise the scope of personally identifiable health information to include anonymized genomic data. And they outlined an encryption strategy that would create a chain of custody, so third-party databases could flag users trying to analyze genetic data that wasn’t their own. But even if every consumer genomics provider bought into this system, it might still not be enough.”

For more information, read the article.

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli

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