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区块链国际资讯

印度使用区块链收集居民DNA信息

近日,印度第八大省--Andhra Pradesh(AP)政府机宣布,已与德国基因组学和精密药学公司Shivom签订合作协议,授权该公司利用区块链技术为该省5000万居民的DNA数据建立数据库。

政府官员 Chandrababu表示,该德国公司将会帮助提升印度的预测医学能力。此举迎合了Andra Pradesh省努力大规模采用新时代技术手段进行治理的政策,该省还试图将其土地登记系统数字化并对抗身份盗用。

作为其计划中的一部分,Shivom将会在位于印度Andra Pradesh省的Visakhapatnam地区的金融科技谷建立一发展中心,这样与该省政府位于Tirupati的负责网络安全和分析的国际数字技术部(IIDT)紧密开展工作。

一名省政府官员表示,市民可自愿参与该DNA项目。

项目如何运行?

基因组测序是确定生物体的完整DNA序列的重要过程,可以帮助科学家研究不同的基因类型以及这些基因和疾病的关联。

Shivom联合创始人和CEO Alex Schumacher在接受采访时表示,“尽管在现实世界中分歧和不同在身边随处可见,但对于调查人员来说仍然缺少可用的基因数据。”因此,一些少数和代表性不足的群体未能享受到医学进步的好处,因为他们的族裔或地理位置存在的差异没有在数据中体现出来。

Schumacher表示,能获得越多的可用的DNA序列,我们就越能了解可能仅影响特定人群的基因类疾病,并且可以提升可用的预防药品。

根据预期,到了2025年,世界上将有20亿人完成基因测序过程。

尽管自我检测DNA的套装价格并不昂贵并且已经由比如 23andMe和Ancestry.com的公司放出了低于80美元的价格,但有关贮存基因信息的隐私政策的制订依旧模糊。然而区块链平台Shivom的出现可以改变这个格局。

一个区块链使一个持续增长的数字记录的清单--由加密技术将各区块进行串联。

该项目的用户可以通过(Saliva Swab)进行样本提交,样本最终会传递至Shivom的设备系统内。每个人的数据将被安全地储存并且通过在线秘密通道进行加密,这样一来个人的基因信息仅可由自己进行登录查看。

然而,调查人员以及政府将会被允许购买和进入存储在云中的匿名原始基因数据,这一点在当今这个契机之下听起来会容易产生麻烦。

数据究竟属于谁?

不安全的分享数据的过程已经在近期引起重视。

除了目前愈演愈烈的Facebook数据事件外,多方还对印度自主建立的大规模生物信息项目Aadhaar提出了质疑。在这种背景之下,一政府还在搜寻以及贮藏市民基因信息无疑将会触发各方的警报。

然而,Andhra Pradesh省政府坚信市民无需担忧。政府首席部长Naidu的IT顾问 JA Chowdary在接受采访时表示,“这些不情愿将自己的私人数据放手给陌生人和陌生机构的做法是完全可理解的。因此,这时对于他们能理解区块链储存的高度的安全性将会变得很关键,更重要的是关于公民的个人存储信息将只对公民自身开放,任何其他人都不允许进入。

并且,Chowdary补充表示,“迄今为止每一个大型的数据库都为中心化构建。在另一方面,区块链的分布式账本,是完全分布式的。这样的话,在多数情况下,去攻击盗取一个去中心化的数据库需要的努力堪比泰坦尼克号一般巨大,甚至不值得浪费时间。”

 

Amidst a raging global debate over the massive data breaches involving both private firms and government agencies, an Indian state has sought to add another potent ingredient to this explosive mix: DNA data.

The government of Andhra Pradesh (AP), India’s eighth-largest state, on March 28 announced that it had signed up a private firm to build a blockchain-based DNA database of its 50 million citizens.

The partnership with Shivom, a German genomics and precision medicine company, will help improve predictive medicine in the country, the N Chandrababu Naidu-led government said. The move is in line with AP’s endeavour to adopt new-age technology on a large scale for governance—the state has also sought to digitise its land registry system and fight identity theft.

As part of its project, Shivom will establish a development centre in Fintech Valley, Visakhapatnam, and work closely with the government’s International Institute of Digital Technologies (IIDT) at Tirupati on cybersecurity and analytics.

Testing for citizens will be optional, a state government official said.

How it works

Genome sequencing is the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism. This helps scientists study different gene variations and their links to diseases.

“Whilst diversity is all around us in the physical world, it is still lacking in the existing genomic data available to researchers,” Axel Schumacher, co-founder and CEO of Shivom, told Quartz. “This results in exclusion.” Minority and under-represented groups miss out on the benefits of advances in medicine because the variation that exists in their ethnic or geographical location is not represented in the data, he said.

“The more DNA sequences are available, the better we can understand genetic diseases that may only affect certain groups of people and improve the preventative medicines available,” Schumacher said.

By 2025, up to two billion genomes are expected to be sequenced in the world.

Although inexpensive DNA self-testing kits are readily available for under $80 (Rs5,200) from companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com, privacy policies around storing genetic information have been blurry at best. Shivom’s blockchain platform could change the game.

A blockchain is a continuously growing list of digital records—blocks—linked using cryptography.

Users will be able to submit samples (usually a saliva swab) to be processed at a Shivom facility. Each person’s data will be stored securely in an encrypted form in an online secret vault of sorts that is accessible to them alone.

Although, researchers and governments will be allowed to buy or access anonymous raw genomic data stored in the cloud.

That may, however, sound problematic in India at this juncture.

Whose data is it anyway?

Insecurities around sharing data have intensified in recent times.

The country is still coming to terms with the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, wherein the British firm harvested the data of over 50 million Facebook users without their consent. Meanwhile, several red flags have been raised over India’s own massive biometric programme, Aadhaar.

Amidst all this, a government seeking and storing genetic information of citizens can set alarm bells ringing.

However, the AP government believes citizens have nothing to fret about.

“It’s understandable that many would be reluctant to relinquish control of their data. So it’s crucial they understand that blockchain storage is highly secure, and the content stored is only accessible to (citizens),” said JA Chowdary, IT advisor to chief minister Naidu.

“Every large database breached thus far has been centralised. Blockchain ledgers, on the other hand, are completely distributed. The effort required to hack a decentralised database is titanic and in most cases not even worth the time,” Chowdary added.


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