MSE 2212: Privacy considerations

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A central (and required) activity in MSE 2212 will be for each student to complete a commercial DNA test and then to analyze the results. This activity raises some privacy considerations that we need students to understand and acknowledge.

Privacy issue #1: Each student will need to share the results of analysis of their DNA test results with the rest of the class. This could include “surprises” regarding family history, e.g., learning that someone you thought was a biological relative was not … or learning that you have biological relatives (quite possibly a lot of them!) that you did not know existed.

Privacy issue #2: Completing a commercial DNA test “automatically” means that information about yourself—through your DNA—becomes known to other people, including at the very least the people who run the DNA testing service. Something for each prospective student in MSE 2212 to think about is whether you will want to delete your online DNA information at the end of the semester (that will be an option) … or not.

We will ask all students registering for MSE 2212 to acknowledge that they will need to think about these issues. We also very, very strongly encourage each student to communicate with family members about your plans to take the course … in case there might be “family secrets” that could be revealed by DNA results about which the student might not be aware!