Open window: when easily identifiable genomes and traits are in the public domain.
"One can't be of an enquiring and experimental nature, and still be very sensible."--Charles Fort. As the costs of personal genetic testing "self-quantification" fall, publicly accessible databases housing people's genotypic and phenotypic information are gradually increasing in number and scope. The latest entrant is openSNP, which allows participants to upload their personal genetic/genomic and self-reported phenotypic data. I believe the emergence of such open repositories of human biological data is a natural reflection of inquisitive and digitally literate people's desires to make genomic and phenotypic information more easily available to a community beyond the research establishment. Such unfettered databases hold the promise of contributing mightily to science, science education and medicine. That said, in an age of increasingly widespread governmental and corporate surveillance, we would do well to be mindful that genomic DNA is uniquely identifying. Participants in open biological databases are engaged in a real-time experiment whose outcome is unknown.
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