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Genetic Data: The Achilles’ Heel of the GDPR?

Taner Kuru


Thanks to the latest developments in genetic sequencing technologies, today, we are able to process vast amounts of genetic data and extract information thereof more than what we could imagine a decade ago. Once subjected to sequencing and informatic analysis, genetic data reveal crucial information not only about the data subjects but also other individuals with whom the data subjects exhibit similar genetic architecture. Because of this, genetic data processing poses challenges for fundamental rights and freedoms at the individual and group level. Hence, this article examines whether genetic groups can be protected within the European data protection framework. To address this issue, the article applies several interpretation methods to the most critical notions and provisions of the GDPR that could potentially provide protection for these groups. Overall, this article concludes that regardless of the interpretation, the GDPR either expands the scope of its protection to the extent that causes ambiguous, contradictory and disproportionate outcomes or excludes genetic groups from the scope of its protection.
Keywords: Genetic Data | Genetic Groups | GDPR | Personal Data | Teleological Interpretation

Taner Kuru, LL.M, Intern at United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. For correspondence: <> This article is based on the Adv LLM Thesis the author submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the Master of Laws: Advanced Studies Programme in Law and Digital Technologies degree, Leiden Law School (Leiden University). The author would like to express his gratitude to Dr. M. R. Leiser for his supervision throughout the time frame in which the thesis was formulated and to Prof. G. J. Zwenne for his helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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