Pentagon officials are telling military members to skip home DNA tests this holiday season out of accuracy and privacy fears.
"Tests that provide health information have varying levels of validity, and many are not reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration before they are offered," Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Joseph Kernan and James Stewart, the acting Under Secretary of Personnel and Readiness, wrote in the Dec. 20 memo, reports NBC News.
They said DNA companies are currently targeting military members with discounts and other incentives, but warned that the tests could be sold without independent confirmation of their claims.
This could cause more risk to members of the military, Kernan and Steward said, as it may affect the medical information that is required to be disclosed.
"There is increased concern in the scientific community that outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic materials for questionable purposes, including mass surveillance and the ability to track individuals without their authorization or awareness," they wrote, adding that military personnel should not use the kits unless they are told to do so.
23 and Me, a prominent home DNA testing company, said in a statement that it takes the "utmost efforts" to protect privacy while ensuring accurate results that government regulators have authorized. It further said it does not share any information with third parties unless the customer gives consent.
Likewise, Ancestry.com said it does not share consumer data with employers or insurance companies.
Peter Pitts of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, however, warned that consumers should always examine privacy agreements closely.
"Maybe you're doing it for fun or for laughs or for conversation at the holiday table, but at the end of the day you may have a good time but the company now can sell that information 100 different ways," Pitts said. "You don't want that information displayed to other people. Ultimately, you don't want an employer to have access to your information."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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