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11/27/2017 8:53 am  #1

About Those Home DNA Kits

Schumer warns DNA-home tests could be gathering personal info

A DNA testing kit might sound like a fun holiday gift to share with a loved one, but Sen. Chuck Schumer says it might be dangerous to give companies that market them access to your genetic codes.

Schumer said it’s unclear what companies like AncestryDNA do with all the data they collect from hair or saliva samples that clients – eager to know if they’re 20 percent Cherokee or have a genetic marker for a certain disease – send in.

“Many don’t realize that their sensitive information may end up in the hands of many other third party companies,” Schumer said at a press conference in Manhattan Sunday.

“There is no point in learning about your family tree if you privacy gets chopped down at the same time.”

Schumer said he is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate, especially since the makers of the kits have ramped up their marketing for the holidays.

Some companies are now running Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials: Ancestry DNA is offering a $99 ethnic tracing kit for $59 while My Heritage has marked down the same swab-taking test to $49.99.

Genetic data is known to be used by law enforcement in criminal cases, by insurance companies to disqualify those with pre-existing conditions and by pharmaceutical companies to market drugs.

Schumer points out that AncestryDNA’s fine print tells customers it reserves the right to “communicate your genetic information for the purposes of providing products and services.”

Schumer said potential DNA data mining and selling is “troubling.”

Ancestry DNA said in a statement it doesn’t sell data without customer consent, hence the fine-print.

“We respect and agree with Sen. Schumer’s concern for customer privacy and believe any regulation should match the commitments we make to our customers,” the company said.

A spokesman for My Heritage said is has never sold or licensed DNA data “to any 3rd party.”

Schumer countered that disclaimers can’t ensure total privacy anyway because the data isn’t covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which means companies can share data much like financial institutions that sell your phone number and address if you don’t check a hidden privacy box.

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

11/27/2017 8:59 am  #2

Re: About Those Home DNA Kits

"Do not confuse motion and progress, A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress"

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