nary technological revolutions that show no signs of abating: in molecular biology, which is yielding an explosion of information about human genetics, and in computer technology, which is moving toward national and international networks connecting growing information resources.
Molecular geneticists are rapidly developing the ability to diagnose a wide variety of inherited traits and medical conditions. The list already includes simply inherited traits, such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease, and some inherited cancers. In the future, the list might grow to include more common medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and Alzheimer's disease. Some observers even suggest that the list could include such traits as predispositions to alcoholism, learning disabilities, and other behavioral traits (although the degree of genetic influence on these traits remains uncertain).
Obviously, such information could lead to discrimination by insurance companies, employers, or others against people with particular traits. In general, the committee feels that DNA profile databanks should avoid the use of loci associated with traits or diseases. That avoidance is the best guarantee against misuse of such information. Current forensic RELP typing markers are not known to be associated with particular traits or medical conditions, but they might be in the future. Current PCR typing uses the HLA DQ locus, which is in a gene that controls many important immunological functions and is associated with diseases.
Even simple information about identify requires confidentiality. Just as fingerprint files can be misused, DNA profile identification information could be misused to search and correlate criminal-record databanks or medical-record databanks. Computer storage of information increases the possibilities for misuse. For example, addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, credit ratings, range of incomes, demographic categories, and information on hobbies are currently available for many of the citizens in our society from various distributed computerized data sources. Such data can be obtained directly through access to specific sources, such as credit-rating services, or through statistical disclosure.2 ''Statistical disclosure" refers to the ability of a user to derive an estimate of a desired statistic or feature from a databank or a collection of databanks. Disclosure can be achieved through one query or a series of queries to one or more databanks. With DNA information, queries might be directed at attaining numerical estimates of values or at deducing the state of an attribute of a person through a series of Boolean (yes-no) queries to multiple distributed databanks.
Several private laboratories already offer a DNA-banking service (sample storage in freezers) to physicians, genetic counselors, and, in some cases, anyone who pays for the service. Typically, such information as name, address, birth date, diagnosis, family history, physician's name and