A lot of ancestry or genealogy sites these days allow for DNA testing for less than $100 only. Getting one’s DNA tested, needless to say, is easier now more than ever. As a matter of fact, to date, it is said that more than 26 million people have submitted DNA samples to various DNA testing companies.
But should you follow suit for the sake of having fun and knowing your roots?
If truth be told, it can be utterly concerning to think that your DNA is somewhere out there and can be easily accessed by anyone interested to take a look at it. There is practically nothing you can do to your DNA once it reaches the laboratory. This is most especially true because you have agreed to the company’s policies. Such may include having your DNA used for purposes deemed necessary by the service provider.
Before you decide to fill a vial with your saliva or rub a swab against the inside of your cheek, carefully weigh the pros and cons first. Knowing the risks of having your DNA tested can help a lot in allowing you to make the right decision. Yes, there are risks involved, and not a lot of people are aware of them!
Keep on reading to know whether or not you should have your DNA sample sent to ancestry or a genealogy site. Below you will come across the top 5 reasons not to undergo DNA testing.
Your DNA May Wind Up in the Hands of a Hacker
A lot of people think that their DNA profiles are printed on paper and kept in file cabinets. The truth is DNA testing companies save DNA results as digital files in servers acting as storage spaces. This allows them to have easy access to information when updating the profiles of their clients or subscribers.
The problem with this is that those servers are not impervious to being accessed by anyone who is not working for ancestry or genealogy sites. So, in other words, servers can be hacked!
Hackers have excellent skills that allow them to get into servers, systems, and networks. More often than not, they use their know-how in carrying out crimes. The sad truth is that there are no hackers on the face of the planet that will use their time and energy to make the world a better place.
It’s a fact that there are also hackers out there who want to make a difference. More often than not, they use their hacking skills to tap into government agencies and offices to make a statement or inspire change. Some of them also target various organizations and religious groups to expose injustice and deception.
However, it’s a different story when it comes to hacking into companies that want nothing else but to allow everyone to understand themselves so much better and even connect with their long-lost relatives.
For the most part, of course, there is nothing wrong with trying to learn more about one’s ancestry line. This is actually a good thing because it allows biological relatives to come together. As a matter of fact, millions of people have found their fathers, mothers, and siblings that they never knew they had.
Apparently, there is only one likely reason why hackers would tap into the servers of genealogy or ancestry sites. That’s none other than to steal information.
So what would a hacker do to pieces of information obtained from a DNA database in an illegal approach? No one really knows for sure. A hacker may take many steps after successfully tapping into a server.
From selling your DNA information to interested parties to associating your genetic material for perpetuating crimes, there are numerous things that could happen to your DNA and you yourself.
Letting an ancestry or a genealogy site use your DNA for piecing together your family tree is one thing. But then it is a different thing if hackers access your DNA!
In this day and age, when just about any piece of digital information can be stolen and used for god-knows-what purposes, it pays to protect your DNA. Definitely, that thing which makes you who you are should not end up in the hands of a person who could use it for all sorts of awful purposes.
Third Parties May be Allowed Access to It
Unfortunately, it’s not just hackers that may want to obtain your DNA information. Your DNA is also often regarded as precious by a lot of people or companies.
What’s more, there’s really no need for interested parties to get their hands on your DNA profile in an illegal manner. It’s because they can have trouble-free access to it, too. How? By using the permission that can be provided to them by the genealogy or ancestry site that you have chosen.
So, in other words, your DNA can be used by others for reasons other than building your family tree!
Some of the third parties that may be granted access to your DNA are pharmaceutical companies. So many drug-makers these days are really interested in finding out which diseases or illnesses are found in a lot of people.
It’s because this makes it possible for them to come up with drugs that will surely sell like hot cakes. Even though they want to provide a cure, they also want to rake in profit!
It’s true that it is a noble deed to develop drugs for treating various health problems. After all, so many of today’s medical conditions are incurable and can shorten the lifespan of a person.
However, it is a different matter entirely if your DNA is being used for drug-making research without your full knowledge. Such can be considered as an invasion of your privacy. It’s just like having a doctor insert a medical instrument into your body without your consent!
This can be alarming for a person who has a serious disease or illness and doesn’t want anyone to know about it. Most especially if the problem is a highly contagious one, it is likely for the person to be judged and driven away, too.
Insurance companies are very much likely to be interested in checking out DNA as well. This lets them know which of their policyholders should be charged with higher premiums. As a result of such, they can be kept from spending a lot of their money on people who would, later on, require expensive medical treatments.
The risk of heart disease and cancer can make insurance companies to feel anxious. This is why they could benefit so much from knowing which of their policyholders could end up having deadly diseases in the future.
It’s possible for ancestry or genealogy sites to allow third parties like pharmaceutical and insurance giants to have access to DNA profiles. After all, such is indicated in the terms and user agreements.
Unfortunately, not a lot of people read those words before submitting their DNA samples. Clicking on the button which says “I agree” is commonly done by consumers even without knowing what they agree to.
A lot of DNA testing sites on the internet today promise not to share their customers’ DNA to interested companies. Sadly, their policies could easily change over time!
Do you feel that you could benefit from getting your DNA ancestry line analyzed? Then see to it that you carefully read the company’s policies first.
Law Enforcement May Obtain Your DNA
The problem does not end with hackers and third parties. Did you know that it’s also possible for law enforcement to obtain access to your DNA if they wanted to?
When solving crimes, it’s standard procedure for the police to ask suspects to provide their DNA samples. Such is done to determine if they can be linked to the crime or not. To have the DNA of a suspect analyzed, the person will have to rub a swab against the inside of his or her cheek. The swab containing the specimen will then be cross-referenced with DNA found at the crime scene.
Normally, a person is suspected of having to do with a crime may refuse to provide his or her DNA sample. Such is the basic right of a human being. So just in case, the police show up one day asking for your DNA, you have every right to refuse.
It’s a different story if there’s a warrant or court order. If such is around, the person who is being considered as a suspect has no other choice but to take a DNA test. More often than not, this happens if there is strong evidence that he or she is linked to the crime.
Without a warrant or court order, the police cannot have access to a person’s DNA kept at the database of a DNA testing company. Complying with the law, however, has to be done if the court orders it.
As you can see, there is no guarantee that your DNA information can be kept away from the police. If they want to have access to your DNA, they can easily do so by pulling some strings. Saying no is something that cannot be done by genealogy or an ancestry site. If they resist when the police present a warrant or court order, they can end up being charged with obstruction of justice case.
Just because you are not guilty of a crime doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s nothing to worry about. You may think that you won’t end up in jail because you know for a fact that you are innocent.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Even if your hands are clean, it’s still possible for you to end up being linked to a crime. What could stop a desperate investigator from placing your DNA sample at the scene of the crime just to speed up the process and have the case closed?
Indeed, there is no stopping the authorities from checking out your DNA if they wanted to!
Laws Concerning Genetic Privacy are Not That Extensive
A lot of things could go wrong from the time that you send your DNA sample to genealogy or an ancestral site, be it in the form of saliva or cheek cells. Some of them may not be evident as of now, but the various risks are bound to make their presence known sooner or later.
The problem with DNA testing is that it is relatively new. Did you know that it was only back in 1986 when it was first used in the UK to solve a crime? And are you aware of the fact that it was first utilized in the US in court just a year after?
When it comes to at-home DNA testing, it actually came into being not too long ago. The first direct-to-consumer DNA testing site was established in 2000, and it was called FamilyTreeDNA.
The site made DNA testing highly accessible to everyone. It’s for the fact that it only required the consumers to send cheek cell samples by rubbing a swab against the inner cheek and then sealing it in an envelope. The said approach was so much easier compared to analyzing DNA from bones, blood, and other tissues with genetic material.
It was after seven years when a saliva-based DNA testing was introduced. Such was pioneered by 23andMe, a site that was established in 2007.
So many other genealogy or ancestry sites also showed up. It’s true that more sophisticated DNA analysis and family tree-building methods were introduced since then. However, the fact remained that at-home DNA testing was so accessible to individuals who wanted their DNA tested.
Laws concerning genetic privacy are not yet that extensive due to the fact that DNA testing is relatively new. It’s due to this why there are some serious risks involved.
If one is not careful, it’s very much possible for his or her DNA to end up outside of the DNA testing company. Once that happens, so many different things that are far away from the person’s control or knowledge may happen.
For instance, just like what’s mentioned earlier insurance companies may request to have the DNA profiles of their policy holders checked. In the US back in 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination or GINA was passed into law. Basically, this helps to keep insurance companies from using DNA information.
Sadly, there are loopholes to such law. It’s due to this why some insurance companies are still able to have access to the DNA of their policyholders.
And what about those who are living outside of the US where such kind of law does not exist? It can be difficult for a person who has undergone at-home DNA testing to have the utmost peace of mind with the absence of a comprehensive law on genetic privacy.
A DNA Test May Ruin Your Life
It may seem as though that knowing your roots is everything. That’s because it gives the impression that it allows you to get to know yourself as well as your biological relatives even more.
Unfortunately, this is not the case always. Perhaps you have already read so many horror stories about DNA testing on the internet. A lot of people have submitted their saliva or cheek cells to genealogy or ancestry sites just to have some fun. Sadly, instead of a good time what they ended up with was anxiety or distress. That’s because they suddenly discovered that the people they were calling family was in fact not related to them by blood!
This is why it’s not uncommon for today’s genealogy or ancestry sites to warn those who would like to try their services. Basically, they alert consumers that the results could leave them with severe emotional stress. Family relationships, more importantly, may end up in a wreck.
It’s not right to simply disregard DNA test results. It’s for the fact that they are 100% accurate! The only time when results can be questioned is when someone from the DNA testing laboratory deliberately manipulates the outcome.
A contaminated DNA sample is not reason enough to question the results. It’s due to the fact that DNA analysis is discontinued as soon as the contamination is detected. Such is often seen during paternity tests when the mother of the child wants to make it seem that the man is indeed the father. It’s also a commonplace when the father doesn’t want anything to do with the child.
Most people who take advantage of genealogy or ancestry sites want some questions regarding their lineage answered. However, it’s very much possible for them to end up having more questions!
Just like what they say, ignorance is bliss. Sometimes there is no need for us to dig deeper just to have a better understanding of ourselves. If currently, you’re very happy in the company of people we refer to as families, then there’s no need for things to change.
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