The Directive on the Protection of Personal Data (95/46/EC) establishes a set of data protection principles that should be implemented in the legislation of the Member States. Medical research, however, is not health care within the meaning of this exemption, since it does not directly benefit an individual patient, but is carried out for the more general benefit of society. Genetic information is conceptually the order of the base pairs in DNA strands. Despite the basic prohibition on the processing of health-related data, there are exceptions to the rule. Public interest is a very general concept that may include many aspects that are thought to be important in the continuing development of society. Data Protection Authorities and ethics committees reviewing medical research frequently encounter questions relating to the use of genetic data in medical research. When genetic data are collected and they are identifiable with a person or persons, they should be considered to be like any other personal data.