Levine Legislation to Protect Genetic Data Signed by Governor Newsom

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Legislation by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County) to require Californians to be notified by a company or government agency if there has been a breach of their genetic data was signed Tuesday by Governor Gavin Newsom. AB 825 defines genetic data and adds it to the definition of personal information in California’s Data Breach Notification Law.
 
In 2019, Assemblymember Levine authored AB 1130 (Chapter 750 of 2019), which required Californians to be notified if there was a breach of their biometric data and certain identification numbers. Assemblymember Levine introduced AB 825 to address the burgeoning genetic data sector to provide protections for this very sensitive data.
 
Since there is little regulation around genetic data, companies are left to make their own policies around a high volume of genetic data. As of early 2019, more than 26 million consumers have added their DNA to at least one of the four leading commercial ancestry databases. This sensitive information in the wrong hands risks far more than impacting our credit score; it could negatively impact our health privacy, make us susceptible to genetic discrimination and subject us to a new generation of identity theft at the hands of genetic data thieves. In recent years, there have been numerous high profile data breaches at sites like GEDmatch and Vitagene, leaving people’s personal information exposed. In the case of the Vitagene breach, one consumer did not find out about the breach of her data until she was asked about it by a journalist for a story.
 
“Our genetic data is incredibly sensitive information that can be dangerous in the wrong hands,” said Assemblymember Levine. “With genetic testing services being relatively new, there is still little regulation around genetic data protections. AB 825 is critical to filling that gap by protecting genetic data the same way we would other personal information and requiring that entities in possession of this data notify Californians if there is a breach.”

###

Assemblymember Marc Levine represents California’s 10th Assembly District, which includes Marin and Sonoma counties.
Connect with Assemblymember Levine on social media: @AsmMarcLevine.