News & AnalysisGenetics

Genealogy Databases Enable Naming of Anonymous DNA Donors

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Science  18 Jan 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6117, pp. 262
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6117.262

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By applying an algorithm to anonymized genomes from a research database and doing some online sleuthing with popular genealogy Web sites, researchers were able to guess the true identities of DNA donors. Privacy concerns have been raised about publicly accessible genome data before, and managers of a popular repository were aware of the risks posed, but few people had guessed how easy deanonymizing the data was. As genealogy databases and other resources improve, how can individuals be protected, and what are the implications?