April 17, 2024


Hi there,

The big news this week is Wikileaks. I was
even inspired to write a comment on the online magazine I edit, MercatorNet.
It’s a very convoluted issue, but I end up taking a very dim view of leaking US
State Department cables.

It turns out that there is a bioethics
angle to Wikileaks. American diplomats were asked to do some bio-snooping for
the State Department – collecting iris scans, fingerprints, DNA profiles from cigarette
buts and coffee cups and so on (see below). I wonder if their subjects were asked to fill
out consent forms. There’s no way you will catch me schmoozing with American
diplomats any more…

Privacy is a dimension of bioethics which will
grow in importance in the 21st century. As governments, companies and other
institutions amass more and more personal information about us, all archived in
databases, the likelihood that this information will be abused grows. I find it
quite unsettling to contemplate the possibility that X-Ray scans of me passing
through airport screening could be posted on the internet. It’s a very remote
possibility, to be sure, but the Wikileaks saga shows that it is possible.

Michael Cook