What Happens To The DNA That’s Sent To Genealogy Companies

In this post what happens to the DNA that’s sent to Ancestry.com + 23andMe will be explained. People trust the personal genome service provided by the 2 companies and submit their DNA for testing in hopes of receiving an accurate lineage breakdown. But what they don’t know is their DNA is at risk of being stolen by hackers and sold to third party companies. Please note this post wasn’t published to scare people into refraining from submitting DNA for genetic testing. Do whatever your heart desires, if you want to know more about your family history then go for it.

Starting with 23andMe this company was founded during 2006 and offered cheap genetic testing to the public but they didn’t receive recognition until late 2007. One of their founders (Anne Wojcicki) is married to Sergei Brin who happens to be the founder of Google. This is important because when Google first launched they promised to be a servant to their users and never sell their information (just like 23andMe). It didn’t take long for Google to break the promise and use the hoarded information from users to their advantage. With the DNA 23andMe receive they can build a database big enough to come up with other business ideas like finding links between diseases and creating genetic profiles. If their medical research is successful and they’re able to identify the cause of a disease they could own the rights to a life changing patent which would generate a large amount of money. Although people submitted DNA at an alarming rate since 23andMe was launched they never received FDA approval. This would be the reason why the company was forced to halt operations in 2013. 2 years later (2015) they received permission from the FDA to resume their genetic testing program.

When it comes to Ancestry.com their story is similar to 23andMe. The company was launched during 1996 and their goal was to help people learn more about their family lineage. Over the years they’ve been able to grow and become a profitable company. This would spark the interest of being purchased by another company. During 2020 Blackstone purchased Ancestry for $4.7 Billion. After the acquisition was complete concerns grew regarding the safety of customer data due to Blackstone being known for buying everything in efforts to have control over the general population. A statement from Ancestry.com was eventually released to address the concerns of customer data. Ancestry.com representatives claimed Blackstone will not have access to customer DNA data or be able to share/sell data to third party companies. The representatives also highlighted the priority of protecting customer DNA data.

In conclusion the risks associated with submitting your DNA for genetic testing are endless. With that being said it’s best to be aware of all the possibilities. There’s no telling what could be in the terms and conditions of these DNA submissions so it’s best to read the agreements thoroughly. During 2017 DNA database access was given to the FBI without consent from consumers and the database helped law enforcement catch a California serial killer. As of right now there aren’t any federal laws prohibiting companies from providing genetic information to third party companies. The only thing that’s in place to protect genetic information is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 which can be read here but it doesn’t do a great job at protecting citizens. This left room for 23andMe to get a $300 Million data sharing contract with GlaxoSmithKline and Ancestry.com selling data to Calico Life Sciences. 23andMe also share data with a few public academic institutions and nonprofit research groups like the University of Chicago while Ancestry.com is partnered with the University of Utah and the American Society of Human Genetics.

23andMe Umbrella

Lemonaid Health: Telehealth medicine service.

Ancestry.com Umbrella

FindAGrave: Website that allows the general public to check cemetery records with an online database.

Fold3: Website that allows the general public to check American, Australian, British, and New Zealand military records with an online database.

RootsWeb: A website that allows the general public to create profiles and share information within a community of people that’s curious about their lineage.

We Remember: Website that allows the general public to upload images and videos of their deceased loved ones.

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