Ancestry Clarifies What They Do With Your DNA

A controversial article that was posted on Medium raised questions about the ownership rights people have over the DNA sample they send to AncestryDNA. The article focused on language in Ancestry’s Terms of Service. Ancestry responded by clarifying their Terms of Service.

On May 17, 2017, Joel Winston posted an article on Medium that was reposted (with the author’s permission) on ThinkProgress. The article was titled: “ takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives.” Joel Winston is a consumer protection litigator, and a former deputy attorney general in Trenton, New Jersey.

The first paragraph of Joel Winston’s article says: “Don’t use the AncestryDNA testing service without reading the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. According to these legal contracts, you still own your DNA, but so does”

Perhaps the best summary of the article is the portion that is identified on Medium as the Top highlight. “There are three significant provisions in the AncestryDNA Privacy Policy and Terms of Service to consider on behalf of yourself and your genetic relatives: (1) the perpetual, royalty-free, world-wide license to use your DNA; (2) the warning that DNA information may be used against “you or a genetic relative”; (3) your waiver of legal rights.”

On May 21, 2017, responded to Joel Winston’s article with a post on’s blog. The post was titled: “Setting the Record Straight: Ancestry and Your DNA”. The post was written by Eric Heath, the Chief Privacy Officer at Ancestry.

The update to the post states that Ancestry released updated Terms and Conditions that apply to all AncestryDNA customers, past and future. It points to Section 3 of the AncestryDNA Service portion of the new Terms of Service. The update says: “These changes provide additional clarity around the policies that we already follow in terms of data ownership and sharing.”

Here are some more details from the updated part of the Ancestry post:

“First, we very clearly state that AncestryDNA does not ‘claim ownership rights in the DNA that is submitted for testing.’ You own your DNA; this sentence makes it clear that nothing we do takes, or has ever taken, that ownership from you.”

“Second, we’re clear that because you are owner of your DNA, we need you to grant us a license to your data so that we can provide our products and services to you and other users, as well as develop new products and services. You can revoke this right at any time by requesting we delete your data or account.”

“Third, we explicitly state that we will not share your genetic data with employers, insurance providers, or third party marketers without first getting your consent. We already follow this procedure, but this language makes our commitment to you explicit.”

Related Articles at

* Things to Consider Before Taking A DNA Test

* DNA Testing and Informed Consent

* AncestryDNA Surpasses 3 Million Customers

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