Genomic cloud computing: legal and ethical points to consider

The biggest challenge in twenty-first century data-intensive genomic science, is developing vast computer infrastructure and advanced software tools to perform comprehensive analyses of genomic data sets for biomedical research and clinical practice. Researchers are increasingly turning to cloud computing both as a solution to integrate data from genomics, systems biology and biomedical data mining and as an approach to analyze data to solve biomedical problems. Although cloud computing provides several benefits such as lower costs and greater efficiency, it also raises legal and ethical issues. In this article, we discuss three key ‘points to consider’ (data control; data security, confidentiality and transfer; and accountability) based on a preliminary review of several publicly available cloud service providers’ Terms of Service. These ‘points to consider’ should be borne in mind by genomic research organizations when negotiating legal arrangements to store genomic data on a large commercial cloud service provider’s servers. Diligent genomic cloud computing means leveraging security standards and evaluation processes as a means to protect data and entails many of the same good practices that researchers should always consider in securing their local infrastructure.

This content has been updated on January, 18 2016 at 11 h 43 min.