Beware of at-home DNA test kits, Sen. Schumer warns
Think twice before gifting an at-home DNA test kit this holiday season, as they may put consumer privacy at risk, says Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York).
The senator says he is against the kits because DNA testing firms -- such as AncestryDNA, MyHeritage and others -- don't always clearly disclose what they are doing with consumer's DNA once it is sent to their company.
Schumer is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate and ensure that privacy policies on all DNA test kits are clear, transparent and fair to consumers as the services become more popular.
"When it comes to protecting consumers from at-home DNA test kit service, the federal government is behind; putting your most personal genetic information in the hands of third parties for their exclusive use raises a lot of concerns, from the potential for discrimination by employers all the way to health insurance," said Schumer.
Sensitive information from DNA test kits can end up in the hands of many other third party companies. The varying terms of service for each company means consumers don't understand the consent they are giving for use of their data.
"That is why I am asking the Federal Trade Commission to take a serious look at this relatively new kind of service and ensure that these companies have clear, fair privacy policies and standards for all kinds of at-home DNA test kits," Schumer said. "We don't want to impede research, but we also don't want to empower those looking to make a fast buck or an unfair judgement off your genetic information. We can find the right balance here, and we must."