back to article Would you trust your DNA with APPLE? HealthKit lined up as genome data trafficker

Apple is set to enable DNA handling in iOS apps, allowing the applications to feed data from DNA labs to genetic researchers via iPhones or iPads. A report from the MIT Technology Review claims two US hospitals are running trial programs to collect DNA from people, and then transmit details of their genetic blueprints to their …

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    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      The vision is to have the DNA info available and on a supposedly secure device, so that researchers can access it only with your permission. One problem is what if the researchers share the info?

      If it were the police/government doing this there would be a huge uproar. Since it's Apple, all is well in the walled-garden. Your data is safe...for some value of "safe".

      This can be good for research or very bad for people... I'm thinking hacks on the data, law-enforcement abuse, and myriad other problems this can open up.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Why Apple

      This is all about reducing friction for getting involved in such efforts. If you have the data in HealthKit, and researchers have various projects going on they issue a "call for volunteers" via HealthKit, it is easy to get involved. Today the bar is a lot higher, both for people who want to help advance science and researchers who want to get access to volunteers.

      This could be done on a website or app, but it is a lot easier for Apple to get the critical mass needed to make this successful than it would be for almost anyone trying to start a website with the same purpose. While Apple's security will never be perfect, keeping the data encrypted on your phone makes it more secure than if it was kept on a website where it is available to hackers the next time there's a 0 day for Apache or IIS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why Apple

        "Your data is safe...for some value of "safe".

        "This is all about reducing government friction for getting involved in such efforts."

        Either I read between the lines or I read what I want to read. Either way, I do account for corruption.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Why Apple

        Exactly. Under this proposed system, the user is in possession of their digitised DNA data and can choose to send it on to any researcher *if* they wish.

        People are right not to trust the NSA / insurance companies etc, and people who warn about the dangers and the slippery slopes are correct to do so. However, a lot of public good can come from sharing data. It is shame that people's data has been abused by governments and companies, since it makes people reluctant to contribute their data when it might be appropriate.

        Having freedom over your data means the freedom to share it if you choose.

        Apple's business model is charging money upfront for hardware, content and software. Whilst no organisation can be completely trusted, at least they have an incentive to not share their users' data. I also prefer the influence they attempt to exert on the US giovernment in this regard, compared to Google or Facebook's ad-based data-hoovering.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why Apple

          "...can choose to send it on to any researcher *if* they wish."

          *If* they wish you say? According to my reality, the U.S. government can force Apple to take it off your phone. If you do not believe that to be the case, where have you been these last 2 years? Well, maybe you've been off reading about private hackers stealing gigantic databases of user information.

          All it takes it 1 time, 1 time for the government to say "Apple, we'll take it all now...or else." Then all of a sudden, Apple has incentive.

          Ok, so somehow you think you can honestly control this. What happens in 3 or 4 years when the program is so accepted, the App changes it's defaults to always share. Let Internet Explorer alone be an example of once sane defaults turned around.

          No matter how helpful this may or may not be, you shouldn't allow it because it's the start of a system of tracking you really don't want to see the future of. I'm all for cloning and genetic modifications of any sort, but there is a time and place for mass collection of DNA, and humanity isn't in need of that yet. This is MASSIVE DNA collection...massive.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Why Apple

            If the US gov was that fussed about your genetic data, they would just snaffle it from that lab that analysed it in the first place.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Why Apple

            " This is MASSIVE DNA collection...massive."

            You do realise that the Apple user has to send off a sample first before the info can be sent back to their phone, don't you? This requires users to be proactive in getting their DNA analysed. It's not as if every iPhone will do a DNA analysis in situ from the fingerprint reader.

    3. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      but if you want to contribute your DNA to a project, why not just do it in the traditional way?

      What, sex?

  2. Alan Denman

    You are not ill

    You are simply wearing it wrong.

    Oh what hype we have.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: You are not ill

      Oh yes I am, I looked it up on wikipedia!

      My watch says I've got sheep-flu.

  3. NoneSuch Silver badge

    It's a good thing.

    It will let science identify the weaknesses in an Apple owners genetic code. Then, through careful RNA therapy we can slowly ween them off their dependency on iDevices.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: It's a good thing.

      Ween them off their dependency on [a smartphone OS that isn't based on selling their data]?

      How altruistic of you. You're not in the advertising industry are you?

  4. MrDamage

    The only DNA of mine

    That anyone from Apple will get, will be left in a brown paper bag, left on their doorstep, and set on fire.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: The only DNA of mine

      Then it's off to Chokey for you then.

      Your DNA can be analysed and extracted even from the ashes (according to C.S.I....) and the simple act of trying to set fire to the Church of Jobs will ensure that you never see the light of day outside Jail for a very long time.

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