Schumer warns that home DNA tests may collect personal information



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A DNA test kit may sound like a fun Christmas gift to share with a loved one, but Senator Chuck Schumer says it could be dangerous to give access to their genetic codes to the companies that market them.

Schumer said it is not clear what companies like AncestryDNA, My Heritage and 23andMe Ancestry do with all the data they get from hair or saliva samples, customers anxious to know if they are Cherokee by 20 percent or have a genetic marker for a certain disease, send it to us. [19659002] "Many do not realize that their confidential information can end up in the hands of many other third-party companies," Schumer said at a press conference in Manhattan on Sunday.

"It does not make sense to learn about your family tree if your privacy is cut off at the same time."

Schumer said he is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate, especially since the manufacturers of the kits have stepped up their commercialization for the holidays. Some companies now offer Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday specials: Ancestry DNA offers an ethnic $ 99 tracking kit for $ 59, while My Heritage has reduced the same $ 49.99 test.

Before buying a test, genetic data are used by law enforcement in criminal cases and by insurance companies to disqualify those with pre-existing conditions – Schumer said consumers should know their rights. Schumer said that the small print of AncestryDNA tells consumers that by submitting their DNA to the firm "… you grant Ancestry and the Ancestry Group Companies a transferable, sublicensable and royalty-free license to house, transfer, process, badyze, distribute and communicate their genetic information in order to provide products and services. "

He called the language worrisome because it suggests that some companies may want to monetize the DNA data they receive. At the same time, it is so vague that consumers can not understand what is happening.

A spokesperson for My Heritage insisted in The Post that it has never sold or authorized DNA data "to any third party." Schumer said disclaimers can & # 39; Do not guarantee total privacy anyway because the data is not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which means that companies can share data just like financial institutions, which can sell their number. phone and address if you do not verify a hidden privacy box.

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