Monday, January 28, 2013

Identifying Individuals Through Anonymous DNA

The New York Times has an interesting story about researchers who were able to associate specific individuals with DNA submitted anonymously and made publicly available for medical research purposes.
Now for the big test. On the Web and publicly available are DNA sequences from subjects in the 1000 Genomes Project. People’s ages were included and all the Americans lived in Utah, so the researchers knew their state. 
Dr. Erlich began with one man from the database. He got the Y chromosome’s short tandem repeats and then went to genealogy databases and searched for men with those same repeats. He got surnames of the paternal and maternal grandfather. Then he did a Google search for those people and found an obituary. That gave him the family tree. 
 “Now I knew the whole family,” Dr. Erlich said. And it was so simple, so fast.
“I said, ‘Come on, that can’t be true.’” So he probed and searched and checked again and again. 
“Oh my God, we really did this,” Dr. Erlich said. “I had to digest it. We had so much information.”

Friday, January 25, 2013

Google Releases Transparency Report, Over 15,000 Requests For User Data in U.S.

Google has released its latest Transparency Report.

Google received more than 42,000 requests for user data from governments around the world in 2012.

In the United States, Google received 5,784 requests by subpoena from July through December 2012.  1,896 were by search warrant. 758 were by other means. 

Google complies 88%-90% of the time.