April 24, 2015

Think Before You Click: Ordering a Genetic Test Online


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Most of us click “I agree” multiple times a day. I normally begin my day by turning on my computer and checking my email. Often my computer will ask me to install software updates. Prior to installation, it will normally ask me to agree to terms and conditions, but how many of us read these documents? The answer is very few. We access a myriad of services online, but very rarely pause to read the fine print in all those clickwrap and browsewrap agreements. I am not saying online commerce is bad—the Internet has made so many things more accessible to so many people—but the use of online contracts is challenging many of the traditional conceptions of what a contract ought to be. My current research analyzes the contracts and privacy policies used by direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies (DTCGT). The overall aim of this project is to examine the current legal mechanisms for protection of the rights of consumers in their genomic sequence data and to suggest possible reforms. However, examining DTCGT contracts has forced me into the depths of online contract law, and this in turn has made me think more carefully whenever I am faced with an option to click away. I now do pause and wonder what exactly I am agreeing to. Most of the time it is more than I bargained for. This article will provide a brief overview of the world of online contracts in the context of DTCGT.

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