Carol Ann Alaimo reports:
One of this year’s hottest holiday gifts has privacy advocates worried.
In Tucson and elsewhere, sales of home DNA testing kits are soaring, spurred by discount pricing and ubiquitous TV ads that promise users insights into their family heritage.
But the saliva tests can also reveal propensities for diseases, and critics fear users may be putting their medical privacy at risk by providing genetic information to companies that can’t guarantee it will remain anonymous.
Count me among the privacy advocates who are concerned about these kits – and not just for the very good reasons listed above. As I watched a TV ad that showed family members greeting each with percent of shared DNA flashed on the screen, I wondered how this will play out when someone discovers that they do NOT share DNA with the people they always believed they shared DNA with. What will happen when someone suddenly discovers that perhaps they were adopted? What will happen when someone suddenly discovers that a child’s “grandfather” is their father and not their grandfather? Yeah, it can get ugly and make for a not-so-merry Christmas.
There are down sides to these kits, and I wish there was more discussion of the privacy risks and concerns – not just the risk of de-anonymizing or breaches, although those concerns are huge, but all these other concerns as well.
Read more on Tucson.com.