Pentagon Warns Military Not to Use Consumer DNA Test Kits

The Pentagon is warning military service members against using popular consumer DNA test kits, ABC News reported. A copy of the memo was posted on Scribd.

The memo from the office of the Secretary of Defense stated (in part): “It has come to the attention of the DoD that some direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing companies are encouraging DoD personnel to purchase genetic ancestry and health information through the offering of military discounts or other incentives. These DTC genetic tests are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission.”

“Moreover, there is increased concern in the scientific community that outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic data for questionable purposes, including mass surveillance and the ability to track individuals without their authorization or awareness. Until notified otherwise, DoD military personnel are advised to refrain from the purchase and/or use of DTC genetic services.”

23andMe responded to ABC News regarding the Pentagon memo. “Our FDA-authorized health reports have been tested to be over 99% accurate,” the company spokesperson said. “Customers are in control of how their data is shared, and how their data is stored, the spokesperson said. “They can choose to have their sample stored at our lab, or have it destroyed. They can also download their information and close their account at any time.”

Ancestry also responded to ABC News. “Protecting our customers’ privacy and being good stewards of their data is Ancestry’s highest priority,” Gina Spatafore, an Ancestry spokesperson said. “Ancestry does not share customer DNA data with insurers, employers, or third-party marketers,” she added. “Ancestry will also not share customer personal information with law enforcement unless compelled to by a legal process, such as a court order or search warrant.”

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