The Commercialisation of Your Physical Self - An Introduction to Personal Genomics

The Commercialisation of Your Physical Self - An Introduction to Personal Genomics

This is a past event

We are living in the age of Big Data and a world of ever increasing surveillance, where a wide range of data about individuals are being collected, shared, and linked with other datasets by an increasingly diverse range of entities. The amount of tracking to which the ordinary individual citizen is now subject is largely unprecedented and not always well understood by that individual. New products and services that often rely on new and emerging technologies are constantly coming to market, normally with very limited oversight. We are seeing a wide range of new consumer focused healthcare services, including many innovations in the Quantified Self movement and the Internet of Things. The personal genomics industry (aka direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTC), or commercial genomics) is one such example. The DTC industry has taken genetic tests out of the medical clinic and into people’s homes, offering testing for a diverse range of purposes, including: health; ancestry; paternity and maternity; athletic ability; child talent; matchmaking; and infidelity. Such services are offered for sale typically through websites, where an individual can purchase a test and they will then be sent a sample collection kit. This kit normally requires the collection of a saliva sample or sometimes a cheek swab, which the individual collects and sends back to the company for processing. The company will then provide test results through a digital platform or email and may also provide other functions through their website, such as social networking. Social networking features of DTC companies often allow individuals to make connections with others. These often centre around connecting people with others to whom they may be related. Companies are also often engaging in research utilising consumer data. Consequently, in the DTC context there is much scope for secondary use of data and also for data sharing with a wide range of entities, including the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, as well as law enforcement, and even immigration authorities. As genetic data can potentially be stored indefinitely, we do not know all the ways that this data could be used in the future, so this is also an area where consumers may be subject to future risks, which they cannot anticipate. Consumers encounter contracts and privacy policies on most websites they visit and very few consumers actually read these documents. This seminar will provide an introduction to the world of personal genomics and the issues, which the industry raises for consumer protection law. It will include discussion of the industry’s use of contracts to govern their relationships with consumers and argue that a number of terms commonly included in these documents could be challenged on the grounds of unfairness. This seminar will draw upon the book Buying Your Self on the Internet: Wrap Contracts and Personal Genomics, which was published by Edinburgh University Press in July 2019 as the first volume in their Future Law series. The paperback edition was published in May 2021.

Dr Andelka M. Phillips (Senior Lecturer in Law, Science and Technology, TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland and Research Affiliate, Centre for Health, Law and Emerging Technologies (HeLEX), University of Oxford)
Hosted by
School of Law
Online Event

Seminar is Free to attend. Please contact Mr Georgi Chichkov for event link at