Like many Americans, you may have found yourself curious about exploring your genealogy through one of the several DNA testing services currently available. You may also assume that the company will keep your information secure and private.
However, once you have given a DNA sample, you may not be able to control who has access to it. While genealogical testing companies may offer a variety of assurances, participating in testing could lead to unexpected consequences, including becoming implicated in a criminal investigation.
1. Donor DNA may become part of a familial criminal search
When criminal investigators gather unknown DNA from a crime scene and have no available suspect, they generally submit that DNA evidence to a local and/or national criminal database to find a potential match. However, if no match is available, investigators may then perform a genealogical search to find family members with closely matching DNA.
2. More interest in DNA-based genealogy means a higher chance of a near match
With more and more families participating in ancestry testing, the amount of DNA information available is only increasing. As a recent article from the American Bar Association points out, eventually investigators may be able to identify nearly any anonymous DNA sample, even if the individual’s DNA is not officially part of a public, private or commercial database.
3. Company privacy policies may provide insufficient protection
A DNA ancestry company may promise to keep your personal contact information separate from the genetic information you provide. However, currently, there are few solid laws that can ensure your DNA data remains private after you have freely given it.
You may have already given a DNA sample out for testing and now have concerns. Know that, in many cases, you may be able to cancel your consent to further use of your DNA.