Systematizing Genomic Privacy Research -- A Critical Analysis

12/06/2017
by   Alexandros Mittos, et al.
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Rapid advances in human genomics are enabling life science researchers to gain a better understanding of the role of the variation in our ancestry, health, and well-being, which stimulates hope for more cost efficient and effective healthcare. However, this progress also yields a number of security and privacy concerns, stemming from the distinctive characteristics of genomic data. Aiming to address them, a new research community has emerged, producing a large number of publications and initiatives. In this paper, we introduce and execute a structured methodology to systematize the current knowledge around genome privacy research, focusing on privacy-enhancing technologies used in the context of testing, storing, and sharing genomic data, while selecting a representative sample of the community's work. Using carefully crafted systematization criteria, we provide and discuss critical viewpoints and a comprehensive analysis on the timeliness and the relevance of the work produced by the community. In doing so, we highlight that proposed technologies can only offer protection in the short-term, scrutinizing assumptions made by the community, and analyzing the costs introduced by privacy defenses in terms of various types of utility and flexibility overhead.

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