©2018 Kari Carlisle
|Courtesy of imdb.com|
Acme Widget Company is an equal opportunity employer and provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or genetics.
While we were all watching out for Big Brother, along came Sneaky Little Sister. Big Brother is still a concern – we are now in his scopes everywhere we go, and it’s only a matter of time before we won’t even have the privacy of our own homes. Maybe with satellite technology, that time has already come?
Sneaky Little Sister is a different invasion of our privacy where the very nature of our being is bought and sold and discriminated against while we ignore the fine print.
We certainly live in interesting times. Many of you reading this may not be old enough to have lived through the civil rights and women’s movements. As a result of pioneers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gloria Steinem, we in the U.S. and other countries around the world now enjoy “equal employment opportunity.” We don’t have to worry about being discriminated against for any protected class – race, gender, religion, etc… HA!
The fact is that laws can be put in place to protect us, but it does not stop discrimination from happening. Do you think inner city youth of color feel safe? How about the women who have finally found their voice in the #metoo movement?
Have I been discriminated against? Probably more often than I’m aware, and certainly often enough to be able to describe many instances. The law does not protect us, and only in blatant circumstances does it give us an opportunity to fight back.
Now there is a new way we can be discriminated against, and I’ll wager you might not be aware of it. Did you notice the EEO statement above reads a little different than it used to? While the company is fictional, the statement is real and has become so ubiquitous, we don’t bother reading it anymore. Over the years, it’s been revised to include additional classes of people that are in danger of being discriminated against. And now the EEO promise includes genetics.
That’s a thinker – how would someone be able to discriminate against me based on my genetics? Other than my outward appearance, how would someone, how would even I, know what my genetics are? How would someone even go about discriminating against them?
You may have seen reports in the news about cold cases being solved through genetics. It’s pretty cool that suspects can be narrowed down and identified through crime scene DNA samples being compared against the growing data set of genetics being collected through commercial DNA test kits. Pretty cool, huh? In addition to finding out your ancestry, if you get your DNA tested, you might help solve a murder!
But what they don’t tell you is if you get your DNA tested, you are giving away all rights to the information gleaned to the company you pay to do the test. They can’t take away who you are, but you are freely giving them everything they can learn about you through the code of your genetics. Forever. There may be limited information they have figured out to date, but the more data they collect, over time, they will be able to learn so much more. Should we be worried?
Yes, we should be worried. If these companies own our genetic information, they can sell it. In the future, employer background checks may include genetics. Sure, it will be under the guise of determining whether you have a propensity toward violence, but there may be other traits they could discriminate against like an increased risk for health problems or whether you eat your boogers.
Science fiction such as Gattaca and Westworld have given us a peak into what could happen in a world gone amok with misuse of genetic information. Ultimately, it boils down to power and greed – if someone can gain power or make money from the information found in genetic material, they will do so.
If you think you can avoid being a victim by avoiding the DNA test, think again. Not only can they determine a lot of information from close relatives who get their DNA tested, you can’t avoid someone collecting a sample of your DNA. Employers can require drug tests, and they may just start collecting DNA samples, too. Your doctor may soon be required to include genetic information in your medical file which, by the way, will be digitized and shared in a database for any healthcare provider (or employer or government) to access. Dystopia is not far away.
So quit worrying about what information on you that Facebook is collecting and selling. That ain’t nuthin compared to what those DNA testing companies are doing.
If you just have to find out if you have any Neanderthal in you, there is a way to test your DNA without giving away your data. You can pay an arm and a leg to have an independent lab do the test. To what end? You own the data. You keep your genetics information private. But if you’re like me, you can just shrug your shoulders, get the test done, and then tell all your Facebook friends if you’re part Neanderthal because that would be too cool not to share. I will probably get the test done. I’m just waiting for the price to go down a little more. I’ll let you know what I find out.
Have you had your DNA tested? What fun fact did you learn that you didn’t know? Tell me in the comments….