Private companies that offer genetic testing in Montana must now get a consumer’s consent before sharing that data with anyone else.
SB 351, sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Zolnikov (R-Billings), was signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte on June 7. Under the law, companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe can no longer share genetic data with researchers or law enforcement unless they get permission from the person who has provided the genetic material.
The Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) launched a grassroots campaign urging Gov. Gianforte to sign the bill.
“CCHF appreciates Sen. Zolnikov’s work to protect genetic privacy rights in Montana,” said CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase in a news release. “[This] legislation, now law, should be replicated state by state, protecting citizens from outsiders making claims upon their most private data—their genetic code.”
The law aims to address “true ownership” of genetic information.
“Our genetic information is the ultimate foundation of our being and can be utilized to predict our current and future behaviors, health, tendencies, and much more,” said Zolnikov in a statement. “By setting this precedent, we put individuals in the driver’s seat of their own precious personal information instead of leaving it up to the discretion of companies and non-existent federal regulations.
“Time and time again, the data of Americans has been abused,” said Zolnikov. “By protecting our DNA today, we can prevent future abuse that could range from identifying predictive behavior through genetic analysis and trends, to creating a massive pool of data to use to profile and market to individuals. The future is unknown, but today we have drawn a clear line in the sand of ensuring that the individual is involved in the conversation.”