If you had your DNA (or a relative’s DNA) tested through Ancestry.com, did you read the complete terms of service and privacy policy?

If not, you probably didn’t realize that you signed over the rights to your DNA to Ancestry, not only for the rest of your life, but they continue to hold those rights after you die.

According to its privacy policies, Ancestry.com takes ownership of your DNA forever. Your ownership of your DNA, on the other hand, is limited in years. (1)

Ancestry DNA promises to use the latest autosomal testing techology to analyze your DNA and help identify relationships with unknown relatives through a dynamic list of DNA matches. Part of your DNA is identical to your relatives. When they identify your relatives’ DNA, they are also collecting bits and pieces of your DNA. So even if you haven’t had your DNA tested through Ancestry, they may already have enough bits and pieces of your DNA to identify you from other relative’s results.

Also because of the process your DNA goes through during the testing, they hold more parts of your DNA than they reveal to you in your test results.

Genetic Data is broader than just the results delivered to you when you use the AncestryDNA test and includes a range of DNA markers such as those associated with your health or other conditions.” In short, Ancestry.com holds genetic data that reveals your health and other conditions.(2)

If you look deep within the Terms of Service, under the Informed Consent section, you will read this warning from Ancestry:

It is possible that information about you or a genetic relative could be revealed, such as that you or a relative are carriers of a particular disease. That information could be used by insurers to deny you insurance coverage, by law enforcement agencies to identify you or your relatives, and in some places, the data could be used by employers to deny employment.

The author calls this a “massive red flag.” Think it doesn’t really make any difference? That it’s hype about the future? It’s already happened to people who’ve had insurance cancelled due to health problems in relatives, which were found by accessing DNA information. The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) used a lady’s broad Ancestry consent to access medical information about her father, through his doctor, a doctor she had never had contact with.

The article these quotes are taken from is available to read at Think Progress. They note at the bottom of the article, “This piece was originally published on the author’s own Medium page and has been republished on ThinkProgress with his permission.”

The old caveat, “Buyer beware,” is still true. But now it involves far deeper problems and goes into territory we haven’t explored yet.  Yes, part of it is still theoretical. But it brings up some thought provoking issues we don’t realize when we spit and send it in for analysis.

If you’ve had your DNA tested through Ancestry, how do you feel about this?


1)Think Progress, 2nd paragraph.
2)Think Progress, 17th paragraph.

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