23andMe Testing: What Really Happens With the Data?

by Anne Flannery

Dec 7, 2018

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Trends / History

Origin stories are everywhere and why not? It is always nice to know where you come from, even in the most general sense. Thanks to companies like 23andMe, it is now easier than ever to answer these questions about yourself and your family. With just a quick online order, all you have to do is secure a kit from the website and it will arrive at your home. Right now, if you buy two ancestry kits, they will each cost only $49.

You will get your kit in three to five days and all you have to do is provide your saliva to the lab. Follow the step-by-step instructions and spit into the tube provided and mail it back to the lab after registering the barcode. The tube will come with pre-paid packaging.

After approximately six to eight weeks, you will be notified a report containing your results has been sent to your online account. The results are an analysis of your 23 pairs of chromosomes and will give you information about the regions in which your ancestors may have lived and any health indicators your DNA displays.

This all sounds great, but privacy is key when it comes to your data, especially genetic data. 23andMe maintains privacy is of utmost importance and that you control access to your records unless the company is served with a valid subpoena or other legal request. There is a detailed privacy policy you should read over carefully before participating in 23andMe.

They definitely give you options regarding how to store your data, but just because your identity is being protected does not mean your data isn’t being used. The company does participate in aggregate information sharing. This means your data is stripped of your personal details and shared in a way that cannot be traced back to you the individual, but it will be shared nonetheless. Reading through these privacy policies is a good first step for anyone considering a mail order genetic test.


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