Americans need to up their game to protect their DNA in a world where customized bio-weapons are not just the stuff of science fiction, one lawmaker said Friday.
Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, spoke about DNA security and privacy at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, according to the Washington Examiner.
“There are now weapons under development, and developed, that are designed to target specific people,” Crow said.
“That’s what this is, where you can actually take someone’s DNA, you know, their medical profile, and you can target a biological weapon that will kill that person or take them off the battlefield or make them inoperable,” he said.
Might have once sounded like the plot of a dystopian, sci-fi book, but it’s not that far fetched.
House intelligence committee speaks about new #DNA #bioweapons https://t.co/R6STOFQDtR via @MailOnline
— Eerie News (@EerieNewsToday) July 24, 2022
Crow said that although some Americans are savvy about protecting their privacy online, many others willingly give up vast amounts of information about themselves when they have their DNA analyzed by a private company to learn about their ancestry.
“You can’t have a discussion about this without talking about privacy and the protection of commercial data because expectations of privacy have degraded over the last 20 years,” Crow said, according to Fox News,
“Young folks actually have very little expectation of privacy, that’s what the polling and the data show,” he said.
“People will very rapidly spit into a cup and send it to 23andMe and get really interesting data about their background — and guess what? Their DNA is now owned by a private company,” he said.
‚And guess what? Their DNA is now owned by a private company. It can be sold off with very little intellectual property protection or privacy protection and we don’t have legal and regulatory regimes to deal with that.’ https://t.co/RKhQJo55G9
— Antje G. (@AntjeG22) July 24, 2022
“So we have to have an open and public discussion … about what does the protection of healthcare information, DNA information, and your data look like? Because that data is actually going to be procured and collected by our adversaries for the development of these systems,” Crow said.
The company says it does not share personal information.
Crow is a former Army Ranger with three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that once Americans share their individual DNA, they no longer control who has it.
“And guess what? Their DNA is now owned by a private company. It can be sold off with very little intellectual property protection or privacy protection and we don’t have legal and regulatory regimes to deal with that,” he said, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
— Dougeldridge1 (@Dougeldridge12) July 24, 2022
Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, issued a warning about the lengths potential adversaries are willing to go.
“Russia is willing to use those against political opponents. They’re willing to use them on their own soil, but then to go in on the soil of a NATO ally in the UK and use those … and as we go into the future, we have to be prepared for that eventualities,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.
Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said bioweapons can also be customized to target crops, causing an artificial shortage of food.
“Food insecurity drives a lot of other insecurities around the globe,” Ernst said, according to the Daily Mail.
“There’s a number of ways we can look at biological weapons and the need to make sure not only are we securing human beings, but then also the food that will sustain us,” she said.
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