Epstein on Genetic Privacy

Not everyone agrees that legally enforced genetic privacy, i.e. GINA (H.R. 493), is a good idea.  One of the earliest voices of opposition to genetic privacy was Richard Epstein (dating back to a 1994 paper, see below).  At the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog, he makes his case against genetic privacy:

The larger point here is that genetic information is in principle no
different from any other kind of information that can be asked about a
given person…Does it really make sense to prohibit the use of genetic information
that might explain why a person has shortness of breath and then allow
the employer to look at medical records that reveal that condition. The
claims of privacy are the same in both cases, and both should be
rejected. Sure, you can keep anything quiet if you don’t want to get a
job, but if you do, then the employer could require the disclosure in
order to allow it to control its costs and to make intelligent
decisions. Do we really want work[er]s with heart conditions to conceal
their risk when a simple reassignment might forestall a catastrophic

If you’re following GINA, Kaiser published a nice summary of the current status of the bill today.

Richard A. Epstein, The Legal Regulation of Genetic Discrimination: Old Responses to New Technology, 74 B.U. L. Rev. 1 (1994)

Genetic Alliance’s policy page on GINA



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