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    Once a gene fell victim to identity theft.
    It happened without warning, and by the time the gene realized what had occurred, it was already too late. The game was up for this gene, as was also the case for an increasing number of the gene’s neighbors, it soon discovered. Not one of them was safe from thieves any longer, who seemed to be vying with one another to steal and exploit the most identities.
    Until it was targeted, the gene hadn’t given much thought to the threat of losing its identity. It had read horror stories in the press, as every gene probably had, chronicling usurped lives and the years of frustration spent trying to reclaim them, but those accounts never struck home. Such crimes were deplorable, yet because they happened to others, they’d always seemed distant and abstract. 
    Now, suddenly, the gene’s entire sense of self crumbled away in disbelief that it could be a victim. The reality of its condition had become clear only when the gene was completing an online medical form. No sooner had it clicked the submit button than up popped a message warning it to cease and desist immediately using the name it had given or else legal action would be taken on behalf of those who now held exclusive rights to it.
    “How can you claim exclusive rights to a name?” the gene typed back in astonishment. “That’s like exclusive rights to a name or a letter of the alphabet.” 
    “It’s done all the time,” was the almost instant reply.
    “But that’s absurd!”
    “It may be, but it’s also the law.”
    “My name is who I am. Without it, I’d have no sense of myself.”
    “Whoever you thought you were now belongs to somebody else, whose full rights in the matter are protected by law.”
    “That’s preposterous! You can’t do that!”
    “As intellectual property, you can.”
    “But whose intellectual property?”
    “Disclosure of that information is prohibited in order to safeguard the privacy of the party in question.”
    “What if that ‘party in question’ does something illegal or unethical in my name?”
    “That’s beyond your control now.”
    “You mean they can do anything they want with my identity?”
    “Even sell it?”
    “Even sell it.”
    “And there’s nothing I can do?”
    Had the world gone absolutely mad, the gene demanded in exasperation? Identity theft was protected by law now? If the gene had no claim to being itself anymore, what was the use of going on? It might as well end it all and be free of this nightmare!
    “You can’t do that either. You’ll be sued for everything you’ve got.”
    “What’s left to sue for?”
    “Sorry, that information is privileged.”