Common wisdom tells us that, with time, science fiction soon becomes reality.
The film Gattaca depicted a world of technological advancements in genetic manipulation such that genetic enhancements for offspring are commonplace for who can afford it and employment is strictly dictated by genetic profile—thus reducing the “in-valids,” that is, those without genetic enhancements to second class economic status in the labor market.
Recent technological discoveries such as CRISPR, which allows for the editing of the human genome, may soon transport us all to that world. Hastening our arrival, is a recent piece of legislation, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, which is now making its way through Congress. That bill would allow employers to collect the genetic information of their employees through workplace wellness programs.
In addition to the expanded collection of genetic information, technological advancements that allow for the wholesale capture of personal data—information encompassing the minutiae of the public and private lives of American citizens—represent an urgent issue. That is why it’s essential for us to explore the democratic processes available to American workers to re-exert control over the capture and use of their personal information by employers and data brokers alike.