DNA gathered from PCR swabs sold for millions and stored indefinitely. Remember, this is part of biometric control to have your DNA fingerprint in store. It can also be potentially used to frame you in a staged crime scene.
Cignpost Diagnostics, a government-approved supplier trading as Express Test, said it will analyse samples to sell the information to third parties, company documents have revealed.
The company claimed it will also use the medical data to “learn more about human health” and develop new drugs and products, the Sunday Times reported.
Explicit informed consent
Customers booking tests through the Express Test website were not clearly told their data would be used for purposes beyond Covid-19 testing, the paper alleged.
Typically, analysis of sensitive medical information can only be carried out with explicit informed consent.
Cignpost diagnostics, which has 71 walk-in locations across the UK, is reported to have delivered up to three million tests since June last year.
The company charges between £35 and £120 for a PCR test and is estimated to have generated tens of millions of pounds from test fees alone.
Its “research programme information sheet”, last updated on October 21, says the company retains data including “biological samples” and “the DNA obtained from such samples”, as well as “genetic information derived from processing your DNA sample … using various technologies such as genotyping and whole or partial genome sequencing”.
The policy also says Cignpost may share customers’ DNA samples and other personal information with “collaborators” working with them or independently, including universities and private companies, and that it “may receive compensation” in return.
It is unclear how many samples have been stored by Cignpost or whether they have been sold or used for any research so far, but the policy says that data belonging to all those providing a swab is retained indefinitely.
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The Coronavirus (Retention of Fingerprints and DNA Profiles in the Interests of National Security) (No. 2) Regulations 2020
“The Secretary of State, in accordance with section 24(3) of that Act, considers that coronavirus is having, or is likely to have, an adverse effect on the capacity of persons responsible for making national security determinations to consider whether to make, or renew, national security determinations and that it is in the interests of national security to retain the fingerprints or DNA profiles as provided for in these Regulations.
The Secretary of State has consulted the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material in accordance with section 24(6) of that Act.”