Ever curious about finding out your genetic history, cultural ties, and health-related information? You're definitely not alone.
These days DNA test kits are easily accessible and affordable, however, studies show that the information shared with users are not always accurate and could lead to misinformation. Alongside this, it is a major privacy issue.
When sharing your DNA with a company, you could be risking your personal safety by giving out sensitive information that could be used against you.
All of the DNA collected by these companies is stored in online files, and it is not uncommon to see that these companies, like many others, face breaches. From DNA test company MyHeritage, over 92 million accounts were leaked onto a private server.
Remember, once these companies collect your genealogy data, they keep it forever. This means your information and DNA is simply waiting to be leaked.
DNA testing companies will often ask if a user is comfortable with sharing their results with researchers and statistics show that around 80% of users will consent to this. They will refer to research companies who may be able to use your data to help find solutions for others, but what we don't know is if these DNA companies are profiting off of sharing user data to others.
DNA testing kits, like technology in general, are becoming more and more advanced and laws are struggling to keep up with them. The lack of regulation leads to safety hazards and a lack of public knowledge around these risks can create trouble for users who share their DNA with these companies. If a user finds themselves in a precarious situation from potentially leaked DNA, there may be limited legal options available to help.
With greater access to large pools of DNA, law enforcement is able to gain information on their cases. We're seeing how DNA is used now to even link back to crimes committed decades ago. If the government or law enforcement is somehow able to access this pool of DNA, this could pose a security threat to certain users.
When a user shares their DNA with these types of companies, relatives of the user may also have their data shared. This creates major privacy concerns.
The statements these DNA testing companies put out on their security practices and promises can alter with time. Nothing is set in stone and these companies will do whatever they want with your data if it means enhancing the growth of their business model.
To clarify, these are all risks that one takes when partaking in a DNA test kit, but they are not definitive results. Many of these companies will do their best to keep your data as secure as possible as they want to ensure customer satisfaction and trust going forward. Some of these risks may be out of their hands though, so the best practice if you don't want your DNA floating around, is to not participate in these types of tests.