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Genetic Privacy and Data Protection: A Review of Chinese Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Test Services
Li Du; Meng Wang
Source PublicationFrontiers in Genetics

Background: The existing literature has not examined how Chinese direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing providers navigate the issues of informed consent, privacy, and data protection associated with testing services. This research aims to explore these questions by examining the relevant documents and messages published on websites of the Chinese DTC genetic test providers. Methods: Using, the most popular Chinese search engine, we compiled the websites of providers who offer genetic testing services and analyzed available documents related to informed consent, the terms of services, and the privacy policy. The analyses were guided by the following inquiries as they applied to each DTC provider: the methods available for purchasing testing products; the methods providers used to obtain informed consent; privacy issues and measures for protecting consumers’ health information; the policy for third-party data sharing; consumers right to their data; and the liabilities in the event of a data breach. Results: 68.7% of providers offer multiple channels for purchasing genetic testing products, and that social media has become a popular platform to promote testing services. Informed consent forms are not available on 94% of providers’ websites and a privacy policy is only offered by 45.8% of DTC genetic testing providers. Thirty-nine providers stated that they used measures to protect consumers’ information, of which, 29 providers have distinguished consumers’ general personal information from their genetic information. In 33.7% of the cases examined, providers stated that with consumers’ explicit permission, they could reuse and share the clients’ information for non-commercial purposes. Twenty-three providers granted consumer rights to their health information, with the most frequently mentioned right being the consumers’ right to decide how their data can be used by providers. Lastly, 21.7% of providers clearly stated their liabilities in the event of a data breach, placing more emphasis on the providers’ exemption from any liability. Conclusions: Currently, the Chinese DTC genetic testing business is running in a regulatory vacuum, governed by self-regulation. The government should develop a comprehensive legal framework to regulate DTC genetic testing offerings. Regulatory improvements should be made based on periodical reviews of the supervisory strategy to meet the rapid development of the DTC genetic testing industry.

KeywordChinese Genetic Testing Providers Consumers’ Right To Their Genetic Information Data Privacy Data Protection Law Data Sharing Direct-to-consumer Genetic Testing Genetic Information Protection
URLView the original
Indexed BySCIE
WOS Research AreaGenetics & Heredity
WOS SubjectGenetics & Heredity
WOS IDWOS:000536068200001
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Cited Times [WOS]:0   [WOS Record]     [Related Records in WOS]
Document TypeJournal article
CollectionFaculty of Law
Corresponding AuthorLi Du
AffiliationFaculty of Law,University of Macau,Macao
First Author AffilicationFaculty of Law
Corresponding Author AffilicationFaculty of Law
Recommended Citation
GB/T 7714
Li Du,Meng Wang. Genetic Privacy and Data Protection: A Review of Chinese Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Test Services[J]. Frontiers in Genetics,2020,11.
APA Li Du,&Meng Wang.(2020).Genetic Privacy and Data Protection: A Review of Chinese Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Test Services.Frontiers in Genetics,11.
MLA Li Du,et al."Genetic Privacy and Data Protection: A Review of Chinese Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Test Services".Frontiers in Genetics 11(2020).
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