What’s Yours is Yours

As more of our sequencing customers come online and transition from “testing the waters” to using BaseSpace for full production informatics, we are hearing what’s working well and what more you want. It’s great to hear both. But one of the big questions we are getting is whether Illumina has access to and control over your sample data, and what we might do with it. In a nutshell, is your data really your own?

It stems from a concern that Illumina will use your sample data to peek in on what you’re doing, or worse, that we’d share that information with others. The fear is Big Brother.

For Illumina to do this without your expressed desire would be wrong, and it is not our business. So let’s walk through the Privacy Policy to visit what we are legally required to do and what we pledge not to. First and foremost, we have written the BaseSpace Privacy Policy to clearly lay out how we protect your data. Central to our ethos and explicitly called out in the policy are the following principles:

  • Your Data is yours, not ours
  • You control access to your Data
  • Our policy is not to look at your Data
  • Our procedures enforce this policy

As with any reliable service we have an obligation to make sure it is kept up and running, and doing so requires that somebody here can monitor and access the full database:

“BaseSpace has been designed with administrative and security features that ensure access is limited only to those personnel needed to administer and maintain BaseSpace.”

These guys and gals are not directly involved in other product research and development efforts at Illumina, and people in those other groups don’t have access to your data in BaseSpace.  So again while our policy is to keep our hands off your sample data, we’ve built the system to make sure it doesn’t happen.

It turns out there is some data we collect on each instrument run that is independent of your sample data, and we think it could radically improve our ability to respond to customer issues and inquiries (the folks in Customer Solutions are psyched):

“Illumina also collects information about the Data. For example, we may collect metadata about the Data, file types and sizes, biases, errors, and trends within and across Data, general trends in the utilization of the Service including features used, instrument type and identifiers.”

Being able to run analytics on a wide swath of instrument health run data – including instruments not necessarily at your institution – helps us separate signal from noise and drill down to root cause. The result is that if you get your instrument in touch with BaseSpace, these metrics will help us to better diagnose and resolve whatever is going on. And while our information collection policy does not include reviewing your individual sample data, if you want Illumina to look at run data to further investigate a technical support inquiry it’s as simple as sharing a dataset with Illumina.

The full BaseSpace Privacy Policy can be found here or from Terms at the bottom of every BaseSpace page.




  1. Hello Jason,

    I tried to leave a reply from my office desktop. I’m now trying again from my MacBook at home. Are these getting through?

    I’m an academic bioinformatician, wondering how to get started writing code within basespace. Will this be possible?

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