A call by Canada’s privacy watchdog to the life and health insurance industry to voluntarily refrain from requesting clients for access to existing genetic test results is going to be ignored, setting the stage for a divisive debate over access and the use of such personal information.
After consulting stakeholders, commissioning research papers, and holding roundtables in the area of genomics and privacy, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada issued an eight-page policy statement asking the health and life insurance industry to extend their decade-long voluntary ban against asking applicants or existing policy holders to undergo genetic testing. More controversially, the OPC is also asking the industry to extend the moratorium to applicants who have already taken genetic tests. But the OPC’s policy statement is not definitive. Recognizing that the state of medical technology is changing rapidly, it admits that its position should be reviewed periodically.
“The thing that really jumped at me is that the OPC’s finding is preliminary, qualified, and based on its own research,” noted privacy lawyer Daniel Michaluk.