German privacy body probes German lab's use of BGI prenatal tests

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - One of Germany's regional data protection regulators on Wednesday said it was probing lab operator Eluthia GmbH's use of Chinese gene company BGI Group's prenatal blood tests and services on suspicion of breaches of data protection rules.

The regulator on data privacy and freedom of information in the German state of Hesse (HBDI), where Eluthia is based, said in a statement that a Reuters report earlier this month prompted it to investigate the company's business model for potential violations of the European general data protection regulation.

The Reuters review of scientific papers and company statements found that BGI developed prenatal tests in collaboration with the Chinese military and is using them to collect genetic data from millions of women for sweeping research on the traits of populations.

Eluthia GmbH said on Monday it would suspend the use of BGI's prenatal blood test for pregnant women while it looks into potential measures to protect its customers' data privacy.

Eluthia, which offers diagnostic blood tests of possible genetic abnormalities in foetuses in Germany, said at the time that BGI's lab in Hong Kong, on which it relies for a wide-ranging prenatal diagnostic test, had the accreditation and certificates required by European data protection rules.

The company was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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