12 votes

Tens of thousands of Australians who have given DNA samples to sites such as Ancestry.com could have their genetic data examined by police without their knowledge.

4 comments

  1. [3]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [2]
      Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
      Yes, they delete your DNA - but only if you actively request this. There's no automatic sunset clause, like them deleting it after 30 days or even 30 years. They're not giving it out willy-nilly,...

      Yes, they delete your DNA - but only if you actively request this. There's no automatic sunset clause, like them deleting it after 30 days or even 30 years.

      They're not giving it out willy-nilly, but it doesn't even have to be you they're after:

      In the US, police are using the genealogy data to help track down criminals through their close family members who have previously submitted their saliva for testing to private companies for a fee.

      If the police suspect your brother or your mother of a crime, they can request your DNA data from these companies. You're innocent, but your data is being requested. That's very much a grey area.

      8 votes
      1. edison_the_dog Link Parent
        It's a grey area in the US too. There's a reason that in the Golden State Killer case they went through a tiny site instead of one of the bigger sites that have specific policies in place...

        It's a grey area in the US too. There's a reason that in the Golden State Killer case they went through a tiny site instead of one of the bigger sites that have specific policies in place regarding cooperation with law enforcement. They also had to violate the TOS in order to do it, and it's unclear that any of the evidence will hold up in court.

        2 votes
  2. [2]
    molotschna Link
    Could someone explain what the downstream risks of genetic analysis are to the descendants of sample providers? I’m concerned there are risks to family members of those who submit samples, but I...

    Could someone explain what the downstream risks of genetic analysis are to the descendants of sample providers? I’m concerned there are risks to family members of those who submit samples, but I don’t understand enough about genetics to know specific risks. Say I give a sample and a health insurance provider of the future gets that data. Could they learn risk factors about my children from my sample? If so, how far out do those risks exist? Does it extend to cousins or nieces/nephews?

    2 votes
    1. eladnarra Link Parent
      You can extend risk factors, but it's more like... a risk of having a risk factor? Take a parent who knows they have a single copy of a mutated gene. They have a 50% chance of passing that on to...

      You can extend risk factors, but it's more like... a risk of having a risk factor? Take a parent who knows they have a single copy of a mutated gene. They have a 50% chance of passing that on to any given child. So an insurance company might be able to say "oh, this person has a 50% chance of having this gene because of their parent," but no one knows for sure until they get a test themselves.

      Currently insurance knowing isn't too much of a concern in the US, since there are nondiscrimination regulations/laws. (For me, my insurance knowing helps; they pay for cancer screening they wouldn't otherwise, and they paid for my genetic test because we knew I had a parent with a particular mutation.)

      The type of genetic test used by companies like Ancestry.com and 23 and Me isn't good to use for medical data, anyway. Their method only catches the mutations they look for, and third-party analysis of the data is prone to errors.

      1 vote