IBM to put worker genetic data off limits

Entering an area of healthcare law expected to become a hot topic, IBM announced a privacy policy covering employee genetic information. The company pledged not to use genetic testing in hiring decisions or to determine eligibility for its healthcare or benefits plans. The announcement is said to be the first of its kind by a major corporation. Experts said the announcement establishes an important precedent.

"What IBM is doing is significant because you have a big, leadership company that is saying to its workers, 'We aren't going to use genetic testing against you,'" said Arthur L. Caplan, directer of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. Not coincidentally, IBM is also making significant investments in developing software and services for all kinds of genetics-related research and testing.

- see this article from The New York Times