Genetic Paparazzi: Beyond Genetic Privacy

By Yaniv Heled and Liza Vertinsky.

The domain of accessible information about celebrities, political leaders, and other public figures is expanding as technology evolves, placing new stresses on already uneasy legal boundaries around their privacy. The availability of cheap, fast, and informative genetic sequencing technologies, combined with growing public interest in genetic information, makes it likely that we will soon witness paparazzi carrying swabs and sterile tubes in search for genetic materials connected in some way to the public figures they pursue. In a world in which genetic paparazzi are not only a possibility, but a probability, courts will inevitably be asked to determine the legal status of genetic materials and information obtained from public figures without consent. The genetics of public figures serves as a useful test case of the legal framework governing genetics and privacy, because public figures are at the same time beneficiaries of more rights than most of us—in the form of rights of publicity—and fewer rights—in the form of diminished expectations of privacy. Read Heled and Vertinsky’s full article here.