DNA-Erasing Sprays Bring New Meaning To Data Protection

BioGenFutures has released a set of sprays that helps people take control of how their genetic material is shared.

These days everyone’s up in arms about internet privacy and information privacy. By now, people are quite aware that anyone can easily find out things about them through their internet activities or by looking at the digital footprint they leave when they’re online, but not a lot of attention is being directed to another fact: that people also leave physical traces of themselves anywhere they go. We all leave traces of our DNA in everything we touch and in every place we visit, whether we want to or not, and anyone can access our DNA.

Transdisciplinary artist and educator Heather Dewey­-Hagborg, has launched a genetic privacy company called BioGenFutures that aims to help people combat that type of biological surveillance. The company aims to give people control over their genetic material by ensuring no one can access it without the user’s consent.

The premier product line of the company is a set of sprays that can be used to erase “unwanted residual DNA” or conceal it. The product line allows its users to choose when, where, and how they share their genetic material. The INVISIBLE line of sprays include ERASE, which cleans DNA like a disinfectant, and REPLACE, which obfuscates or conceals the user’s DNA by introducing a mix of genetic material designed to hide the original sample.

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According to the company website, ERASE can delete 99.5% of the DNA left behind by the user, while REPLACE can conceal the remaining 0.5%.

According to founder Dewey-Hagborg,

You wouldn’t leave your medical records on the subway for just anyone to read. It should be a choice how you share your information and with whom, be it about your genes, your email or your phone calls. Genetic privacy is an emerging issue that is quickly becoming vitally important. Invisible is the first step toward making protection against new forms of biological surveillance accessible to the public. In five years time, I expect genetic privacy products will be as commonplace as hand sanitizer.

Dewey-Hagborg is known for her explorations in art and technology and for her projects that involve DNA. Last year the artist came out with a project called Stranger Visions, where she collected DNA from public places, analyzed the information,and used it to reconstruct facial features to create realistic 3D portraits of random strangers.

The INVISIBLE line of sprays will be available in June.

BioGenFutures
[h/t]: Genetic Privacy Network

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