Sen. Schumer warns that companies providing at-home DNA tests can sell genetic info

At-home ancestry testing kits are popular presents this holiday season — but Sen. Charles Schumer cautioned Sunday that companies providing the service shouldn’t be able to gift genetic information to the highest bidder.

The terms of service for companies like MyHeritage and Ancestry allow them to sell customers’ genetic information to third parties, Schumer said.

Such loose user agreements raise the possibility of employers discriminating against new hires through DNA, or genetic information affecting one’s health insurance, he said.

“With great powers — looking into your genetics — comes great responsibility. For some of these companies there are no limits at all,” Schumer said.

MyHeritage said in a statement it has never sold or licensed DNA data to a third party and will only do so with a user’s “explicit informed consent.”

The company said it will also never sell DNA data to insurance companies.

Schumer called on the Federal Trade Commission to ensure privacy policies for DNA kits are clear and fair for consumers.

“I don’t think that this industry is nefarious, it is just that they are brand new and they need safeguards,” he said

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