Currently, there is no comprehensive Wyoming privacy act or Wyoming consumer privacy act in effect. Wyoming does boast a Genetic Data Privacy Act.
Wyoming’s Genetic Data Privacy Act was signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon on March 8th, 2022, and went into effect on July 1st, 2022.
This act was passed to help protect genetic data as it can be used to identify individuals and their family members and can contain their private health information.
What is Wyoming’s Genetic Data Privacy Act?
The Wyoming privacy law regarding genetic data was established to protect people’s private genetic data.
It requires genetic testing businesses to disclose how they gather genetic data, what they intend to do with it, with whom they will share it, and how they preserve it. The measure updates definitions to conform to those of other states, strengthening already-existing genetic data privacy rules.
The rights people have concerning their genetic information are described in this law. It describes how genetic testing businesses should handle customer data and what they must disclose to customers before data collection. Additionally, it grants the attorney general the authority to pursue legal action against genetic testing businesses that disobey the act.
What is Genetic Data and Why is it Important?
Genetic data is any information that contains an individual’s genetic characteristics.
When people think about genetic data, genetic testing is probably the first thing to come to mind. Genetic testing is used to determine heritable diseases as well as to help individuals research their geographical ancestry.
While genetic data can be used for positive purposes, such as to help scientists figure out the cause of and treatment for certain diseases and forge new developments in neuroscience, it can also be misused.
Genetic data contains sensitive health information about individuals that can lead to discrimination or be used to identify or track individuals and their family members without their knowledge.
Examples of Genetic Data
According to the act, genetic data includes raw sequencing data, genotypic and phenotypic information, and health information that is connected to an individual’s raw sequence data.
Raw Sequencing Data
Raw sequencing data is information that comes from an individual’s extracted deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
Genotypic and Phenotypic Information
A genotype is the genetic makeup of an organism. A phenotype is the physical traits that make up an individual, such as eye and hair color or blood type. A genotype contributes genetically to the formation of a phenotype. Genotypic or phenotypic data can be used to identify family members of an individual, rendering it sensitive information.
Raw sequencing data can result in genotypic or phenotypic information, which is considered genetic data under the act.
Companies that use health information for research or product development should pay special attention to any health information that an individual reports to them, as it may be considered genetic data under the act.
Any self-reported health information that is used in connection with the individual’s raw sequence data is treated as genetic data and protected under the act.
The language of Wyoming’s Genetic Data Privacy Act makes it clear what constitutes genetic data:
- Raw sequence data that result from sequencing of an individual’s complete extracted or a portion of the extracted DNA
- Genotypic and phenotypic information that results from analyzing the raw sequence data, including any familial inferences therefrom
- Self-reported health information that an individual submits to a company regarding the individual’s health conditions and that is used for scientific research or product development and analyzed in connection with the individual’s raw sequence data