The Human Genome Project modeled its open science ethos on nematode biology, most famously through daily release of DNA sequence data based on the 1996 Bermuda Principles. That open science philosophy persists, but daily, unfettered release of data has had to adapt to constraints occasioned by the use of data from individual people, broader use of data not only by scientists but also by clinicians and individuals, the global reach of genomic applications and diverse national privacy and research ethics laws, and the rising prominence of a diverse commercial genomics sector. The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health was established to enable the data sharing that is essential for making meaning of genomic variation. Data-sharing policies and practices will continue to evolve as researchers, health professionals, and individuals strive to construct a global medical and scientific information commons.
In February 1996, the genome community met in Bermuda to formulate principles for circulating genomic data. Although it is now 20 years since the Bermuda Principles were formulated, they continue to play a central role in shaping genomic and data-sharing practices. However, since 1996, “openness” has become an increasingly complex issue. This commentary seeks to articulate three core challenges data-sharing faces today.