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Biotech Software

Genetic Access Control Code Uses 23andMe DNA Data For Internet Racism 312

rjmarvin writes: A GitHub project is using the 23andMe API for genetic decoding to act as a way to bar users from entering websites based on their genetic data — race and ancestry. "Stumbling around GitHub, I came across this bit of code: Genetic Access Control. Now, budding young racist coders can check out your 23andMe page before they allow you into their website! Seriously, this code uses the 23andMe API to pull genetic info, then runs access control on the user based on the results. Just why you decide not to let someone into your site is up to you, but it can be based on any aspect of the 23andMe API. This is literally the code to automate racism."
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Genetic Access Control Code Uses 23andMe DNA Data For Internet Racism

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  • So What (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @02:31AM (#50158017)

    1: Stop caring what other people do.
    2: Don't have a 23andMe profile (accessible to random websites on the internet, or at all) if you really care and think this will actually affect you.

    Perhaps some users will implement it in a harmless and beneficial way, such as creating a safe space for women. But it’s just as likely that, in a few years, Googling for a snippet of this code yields search results that are the equivalent of a who’s who of racist and misogynist sites.

    3: Take your sexist, racist agenda and go the fuck away.

    • Re:So What (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tgv ( 254536 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @02:37AM (#50158041) Journal

      > 3: Take your sexist, racist agenda and go the fuck away.

      Well, indeed. What's the difference between "a safe space for women" and "a safe space for white supremacists"? And who in their right mind can think it's a good idea to have a DNA profile online? Even if set to private, it's begging to get hacked.

      • Re:So What (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @02:48AM (#50158111)

        Um, there's no difference and that's the point.
        Who gives a shit if racist groups have a little pow wow on their own servers?
        Are you going to tell them that they can't have freedom of speech?
        Let them be assholes on their own private corner of the internet.

        • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

          Yea I don't get it. It inst as if these groups have not found ways to prevent those they consider undesirables out in the past. What's the problem here, that it might be harder to infiltrate them or something. I don't imagine submitting someone elses sample to 23andMe is all that much tougher than using a fake name and photo on the web anyway.

          • I'm pretty sure the feds will be able to insert what ever undercover profiles they want into 23andme, and thereby making it easier to infiltrate what ever terrorist group they all with the correct genetic bona fides.

      • . What's the difference between "a safe space for women" and "a safe space for white supremacists"? And who in their right mind can think it's a good idea to have a DNA profile online? Even if set to private, it's begging to get hacked.

        What's the difference between a safe space for white supremacists and a safe space for native americans? its the difference between a majority and a minority in an area where the majority enjoys the balance of power.

    • I thought the narrative was that race doesn't exist? That we're all the same race? How then is is possible that one can determine so called race by examining the genetic profile of a person?

      Is it possible we were lied to and that race is indeed something that can be determined as a composition of genes and other genetic data?

      • by Sique ( 173459 )
        Maybe 23andMe will yield exactly that result? Because genetic markers are many, and because there are no clear cut races of humans, but rather a continuum of different sets of genetic markers, sites that use 23andMe to permit access will find out that they either have to loosen their criteria to enable access to all the people they want or they have to tighten controls to keep people out they don't want but at the same time exclude many which would fit their agenda.
        • by Suiggy ( 1544213 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @04:23AM (#50158463)

          So you're telling me race exists? That sounds racist! How dare you say that, you vile bigot!

          • by Sique ( 173459 )
            That's what I exactly don't say:

            because there are no clear cut races of humans

            Instead I was talking about arbitrary cutoffs where some genetic markers are allowed and others aren't, but they don't fit a racist agenda. You could for instance block off everyone missing both the immunoglobulin A allel and the immunoglobulin B allel, and then you allow access only to people with blood group 0. It would probably work, but your blood group is no indicator for the perceived race.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If your hair colour is brown, then you'll have different genetic marks than someone with black hair.
        If your skin colour is brown, then you'll have different genetic marks than someone with white skin.

        Yet we don't separate brown/black hair into 'races'. Segregation into 'racial categories'/discrimmination against skin colour is a societal thing. So it doesn't matter what the genes say, this needs to be solved on a mental level.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @04:52AM (#50158555)

        Is there something in our genes that makes our skin a certain color? Most certainly there is. There's also something in there that determines your facial properties, the color of your eyes and hair, your height and so on, all those little tidbits that make you you.

        It's funny, though, that the color of the skin is given such a huge amount of importance. It strikes me as a bit arbitrary. I mean, why that? Why not, say, whether your fingers are skinny or chubby? Why is one genetic expression the all important one, considering there are so incredibly many of them?

        • Given recent history just let MS loose with it and there'll be a website up there in mutes that will largelly think you're a black jew of icelandic descent witha bacon fetish
        • It's funny, though, that the color of the skin is given such a huge amount of importance. It strikes me as a bit arbitrary. I mean, why that? Why not, say, whether your fingers are skinny or chubby? Why is one genetic expression the all important one, considering there are so incredibly many of them?

          I always figured that it basically boiled down to skin color being easily identifiable. When you look at a person, you can tell their skin color which means (if you're a racist) you can easily tell if the perso

      • The 'race doesn't exist' argument means that if you pick a random black person and a random white person then they're likely to have as much (if not more) genetic material in common than if you pick two black people or two white people. i.e. trying to infer anything beyond skin colour from skin colour is basically meaningless. It doesn't mean that the genes for skin colour (or hair colour or eye colour) are not identifiable.
      • Complex question (Score:5, Informative)

        by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @05:38AM (#50158661) Homepage

        I thought the narrative was that race doesn't exist? That we're all the same race?

        Yup. We're all the same specie. "Race" is just an arbitrary label used to make convenient distinction among a group of individual that would other wise mate together : e.g.: breeds of dogs, etc.

        How then is is possible that one can determine so called race by examining the genetic profile of a person?
        Is it possible we were lied to and that race is indeed something that can be determined as a composition of genes and other genetic data?

        Short answer: Nope, it's not possible.

        Not so short answer: Well depend on what you define as "races" i.e.: you'll need to constantly redefine your arbitrary "race" label along as the set of gene that you try to use to map it. With that definition of "race" drifting farther and farther away from what biggots with an agenda would like it to be.

        Long answer: Remember that the only valid real barrier is *specie*. i.e.: between groups that *cannot* mate together. Inside that division, all individual can mate together. Humans are specially good at that "mating" (well, maybe except some basement dweller): because from our dawn we've been one of the most mobile specie, only bested by birds and some big aquatic animals. Humans do tend to get around a lot. As a result our specie is constantly under heavy genetic mixing.

        You can put some arbitrary labels (hey, let's put together individual that have darker skin tone in one big arbitrary bunch and call them niggers!)
        You can even find some labels that are actually convenient (statistically, people who typically come from Caucasian ancestry tend to have a bit higher probability for some disease and a bit lower for others).

        But if you got into the details, it starts to get muddy, you'll find that some people that you put in one of your arbitrary categories come from completely different lineage that split quite some time before, whereas other that you wanted to put out of that label actually share much more recent ancestry.
        (That white supremacist biggot over there ? He want to be put in a special category, aside "non whites" ? well on the surface it might look like some vague idea like correlating it with skin pigmentation. Except that among those non-white he'll probably put native american, but also african and north african. And his grand-dad happens to be from an italian immigrant family, and over the course of history southern european have had a lot of exchange with northern africa. See where I'm heading ?)

        So, in short what works well to separate breeds of dogs (which are bred in very controlled manners and you can somewhat keep something like a breed more or less pure) absolutely doesn't work with human that fuck around a lot.

        Same for the genetics.
        You'll be able to spot a few marker (let's say: a gene that helps control the base amount of melanin in the skin). But once you start using this, you'll notice that a lot of the "wrong people" end in the "wrong category".

        That specific list of markers you've assembled together, will consider some of the white supremacists as non white (because of the complex mixed ancestry most people have) while failing to cast aside one of their usual target.

        An idealist (like me) would dream that this would help some of the biggots to realise that we aren't that much different under the skin, we're so much mixed that there's a high probability that the biggot has a bit in their blood what their usual target is.

        Saddly, the reality will be that they'll be still endlessly tweaking around their genetic definition of "race", to constantly keep itt more or less matching their agenda. They'll never have a definite set of markers, they'll constantly need to patch them. And over time it will evolve to something that at the genetic level doesn't remotely look like what they pretend to be (by the time they manage to include all their friend and exclude all their targets, melanin-related gene

      • by RedK ( 112790 )

        I thought the narrative was that race doesn't exist?

        You have to understand who you're dealing with in these articles. The narrative is the EXACT opposite of "egalitarianism" or "humanism". The people posting these things are Snake-oil salesmen and their business is to sell on you on their Identity Politics as hard as they can.

        To them, Humanism (one race) and Egalitarianism is like rat poison. The very basis of those idealogies runs completely contrary to Identity Politics, by virtue of not recognizing Race, Gender, Sex, Religion or any other "minority op

    • Re:So What (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @05:06AM (#50158577)

      I was saying the same when Facebook started and people complained about it. "So what?", I said, "You don't like it, nobody's forcing you to make an account. Yeah, your friends are nagging you, but so what?"

      Now look around you. Tell me, how often have you encountered a webpage that only lets you sign up if you have FB in the first place? Because they can't be assed to have their own registration process? Believe me, not having a FB account sure locks you out from quite a few things that could be interesting.

      Let's all hope that this shit never takes off as big as FB did. As long as it's just some wacko nutjob pages that need to make sure your race is "pure" (or your mind puree, rather), there's little harm. If that catches on with something actually useful, things get less funny.

      • Tell me, how often have you encountered a webpage that only lets you sign up if you have FB in the first place?

        None, but if a site requires a facepalm account, I don't want to log in.

    • Re:So What (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @07:42AM (#50159043) Homepage

      1. The person who made this uses the name "OffensiveComputing". You fell for what is clearly a troll project. Indeed, reading the description it's full of only slightly subtle MRA troll talking points and phrases, like the "safe spaces = assault on freedom of speech" meme.

      2. 23andMe don't post your profile publicly or allow random websites to access it. You have to give permission to each web site. It's a major part of their service, because they only do the DNA testing part and offer some basic info about the result. The idea is that you can then take your profile to other sites and professionals who can interpret it or combine it with other tests. You know, like you would with an MRI scan. The guy doing the scan is just a technician, someone else interprets it.

      You might still think that's dumb, but presumably you don't trust the hospital to keep your records on computer either and demand they are never transmitted to other hospitals electronically.

    • NBA, Comcast, Toyota, Obama, etc. care though. :P

    • I would argue that vying for gender segregated websites under is quite sexist in and of itself.
  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @02:40AM (#50158053)
    Finally a way to avoid offending certain people and gorillas.
  • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @02:41AM (#50158071) Journal

    So visitors to his website:
    * Must have been sequenced by 23andMe
    * And be so interested in his website that they are willing to give him access to their genetic data
    * And meet whatever genetic filter he has imposed.

    At this point, what he is running is less of a 'website', more of a 'diary', as it will have only one reader.

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @02:55AM (#50158139) Journal

    I didn't realize that "race" could now be determined by a genetic sequence (or two). If true this may lead to some very troubling possibilities.

    It would be possible using CRISPR (a recently developed means of precisely targeting an exact genetic sequence) to have a virus that could infect just one particular population. Smallpox comes to mind because 1) very few people in the world are currently vaccinated against it (it was made extinct a while ago) and 2) its DNA has been sequenced and published online. So, using a DNA synthesis machine you could make a version of this virus that would target a particular population.

    I believe such machines can now make DNA sequences long enough to create viruses. I also remember someone creating a much more lethal version of smallpox that could kill all of the laboratory animals it infected, including ones vaccinated against "normal" smallpox (I think it was 100% lethal).

    Of course, making a virus that would go after a particular Sex as opposed to a racial characteristic should be much easier (just target any gene found on one of the sex chromosomes and not the other.) This particular scenario was explored in Frank Herbert's book "The White Plague". A related scenario might be the film "Children of Men" where all the women(?) are made sterile.

    • The US Government has had this for years.
    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      The sociological races can't be determined all that accurately with a few DNA sequences. It's more of a game of probabilities: certain sequences correlate highly with certain sociological races. Quite a few errors, though, in part because not everyone's self-identified race is actually the ethnic descent they think it is. For example, some people who believe themselves to be "ethnic Swedes" are actually of Finnish origin, and vice versa, but don't know their family history long enough back to know that. Als

  • by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @03:54AM (#50158337)

    how secure could that actually be as an access control?

    I mean, the access control isn't checking your DNA. It is checking if you have access to a genetic profile of someone with matching criteria. Or, as a completly different attack vector: access to body fluids of someone matching the allowed filters. ("whitelisting" gets a whole new meaning here....)

    • So, we can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids?

  • by MtHuurne ( 602934 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @04:00AM (#50158355) Homepage

    The correlation between genes and culture is becoming weaker in the modern world. People have far more interaction than before with people from other backgrounds since travel is easier, many people live in large cities and people communicate online. Therefore, to guard access to an online community based on genetics seems like the wrong solution, since a superficial genetic profile will not predict how well an individual will fit into a community.

  • Like this white supremacist [dailymail.co.uk] who found out that he's 14% African.

  • I can't think of any practical use for such a Genetic Access Control method nor of a reason to feel outrage and clamor "racism". For a start, this app only works for users who are also 23andme clients anyway, who also agree to have the app access their data (à la Twitter), and I'd say those people pretty much already explicitly waived their genetic privacy.

    Also, I can attest to how widely inaccurate some of the results you get through the API [23andme.com] can be, especially the ethnic origin results. In my case it'

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @04:36AM (#50158517) Homepage Journal

    IF haveOnlineGeneticProvile
    THEN PRINT "You are too dumb to be allowed on the internet."

    • by halivar ( 535827 )

      According to this code, no one is too dumb to use the internet, considering that haveOnlineGeneticProvile will likely be undefined. :P

  • The only people bothered by this are the silly gits who have championed real names on the internet, the people who ignorantly believe they are only allowed to have one identity on the internet, and those foolish individuals who broadcast lives to the world.

    Online IDs are cheap. They don't cost anything and you don't need to find a shady character in a seedy print shop to score one.

  • Okay, people can register DNA samples with 123andme.com and be entered into their genetic database. When you log into a site that uses this API, racist or otherwise, what quick way is there to authenticate? Touch the tip of your tongue to a sensor? This could be a surefire way to identify an individual, so long as the sensor had a threshold test that would prevent people from using the edge of someone's water glass to log in.

  • by sabbede ( 2678435 )
    a way to make sure users of a forum for pre-teen girls are at least female - not men looking to rape children.
    • Or, a way to make sure(ish) the forum you've set up to lure pre-teen girls for raping is attracting bona fide pre-teen girls and not 44 year old men pretending to be pre-teen girls.

      • In other words, as with everything else, it can be put to good or to bad use depending solely on the volitional human being actually employing it.

Multics is security spelled sideways.

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