The trend of DNA-based ancestry seems fairly harmless. Send away your DNA, find out about your family. But what happens to that sample?
The trend of spitting in a cup and sending it to a building to see which dead strangers we look like is not going away. As of February, more than 12 million people had sent their genetic code to Ancestry.com, 23andMe, MyHeritage, and whoever else performs the grim service.
But while you might learn of Great Uncle Rudiger’s unfortunate casual Nazism, what about that little piece of you that you’ve passed onto these firms? According to Bloomberg’s Kristen V. Brown, get yourself back is actually a fairly tricky proposition.
In her piece, she explained that Ancestry.com pushed her to delete her sample online, but discovered that they hadn’t done it, 23andMe told her that the tools needed to delete her data and sample were “not currently available.” Later, the company told her it couldn’t legally delete her genetic info because the government said they couldn’t.
An amble through the T&C’s states that most testing companies have permission to share your DNA data with third parties, such as law enforcement or scientific researchers. Fitting your tinfoil hat snugly to your head, you could make the case that they may even sell it, maybe to an life insurance company who could deny you coverage on the basis of their predictions about your health, which is very much legal in the US of A. At home, we face the same problem as the regulation of the genome is particularly murky.
Another one tracking down every trace of you. Considering that the data doesn’t stay between you and the testing company, finding and deleting it all could be a very real impossibility.
The solution? Either read the conditions, or just the dead remain dead.