Could at home DNA tests create an ID theft issue? A leading Senator thinks so...
Bottom Line: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had an interesting warning recently. If you're into finding out more about you and your family's history, you could be setting yourself up for identity theft. Not exactly the warm and fuzzy thoughts that may come about as your attempting to put together your lineage and better understand your family's history. With services like Ancestry and 23andme opening the door to more information than you readily had available to you previously, they've caught on with millions. But should be now be worried about your information?
Senator Schumer has called on the FTC to investigate and ensure proper standards for security are being met for services that use DNA based testing. Quoting Schumer: When it comes to protecting consumers’ privacy from at-home DNA test kit services, the federal government is behind; putting your most personal genetic information in the hands of third parties for their exclusive use raises a lot of concerns, from the potential for discrimination by employers all the way to health insurance,”
So, is there a reason to be worried if you've used one of these services or intend to? I spoke to an expert who used to work in the Cyber Security department for the federal government. He said what you're probably thinking. Anytime you have more of your personal information with a third party you run an increased risk of being compromised. Otherwise there's a not a difference with these services vs. others that might have your personal data. Looking further into the issue the three leading services (Ancestry, 23andMe and Heritage) all used recognized research labs. These labs don't slap your name and information on your data. Each is assigned a code. The code is given to the user only. In other words, even if a lab were compromised it wouldn't mean anything to those who accessed it without also compromising the user database simultaneously (and vice-versa). This means that it's possible but far less likely than just about any other type of ID theft you can envision.