8.27 DP 66 suggested that genetic samples are closely analogous to other immediate sources of information that are protected by information privacy principles.
8.28 DNA is often popularly referred to as a ‘genetic code’ and the genome as a ‘book’. The four bases of DNA (A-G-C-T) are sometimes called the ‘genetic alphabet’. Genetic science itself is replete with the language of information and information technology—for example, there are bases, codons, messenger RNA, transcription and translation.
The idea of the genome as a book is not, strictly speaking, even a metaphor. It is literally true. A book is a piece of digital information, written in linear, one-dimensional and one-directional form and defined by a code that transliterates a small alphabet of signs into a large lexicon of meanings through the order of their groupings. So is a genome.
8.29 One view expressed to the Inquiry was that a distinction needs to be drawn between privacy protection of personal information and the sources of that information.A basis for this distinction might be that, unlike a book or other written information, technology must intervene to create genetic information from a genetic sample. However, if a book exists in electronic form, technology will also be required to intervene. Computerised information, whether on a hard drive, a CD–ROM or some other format, requires technological intervention before information may be derived from the bytes recorded. Yet there is no question that personal data on an encrypted CD-ROM is considered to be ‘information’ in a ‘record’ for the purposes of the Privacy Act. Modern genetic sequencing technology may make genetic samples as immediate a source of information as, for example, a computer disk or database, which are already covered by the Privacy Act.
 Australian Law Reform Commission and Australian Health Ethics Committee, Protection of Human Genetic Information, DP 66 (2002), ALRC, Sydney [7.58]–[7.67].
 Adenine; guanine; thymine; cytosine.
 See the genetics primer in Ch 2.
 M Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (1999) Fourth Estate, London, 7–8.
 Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner, Submission G143, 22 March 2002.