News of the WeekHuman Genetics

Opponents Criticize Iceland's Database

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Science  30 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5390, pp. 859
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5390.859

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A bold plan to establish a database containing the medical records of the entire population of Iceland has generated a furious controversy in the isolated and sparsely populated island itself--but it has caused hardly a ripple beyond Iceland's shores. No longer. Geneticists, bioethicists, and privacy experts from Europe and the United States are rallying against the plan and are urging Iceland's parliament to think twice before approving a bill that would make it possible. They claim that the bill would permit privacy violations that would be allowed almost nowhere else in the world--and may even infringe on Icelanders' human rights.