The Pentagon is advising members of the military not to use consumer DNA kits, saying the information collected by private companies could pose a security risk, according to a memo co-signed by the Defense Department’s top intelligence official.
A growing number of companies like 23andMe and Ancestry sell testing kits that allow buyers to get a DNA profile by sending in a cheek swab or saliva sample. The DNA results provide consumers information on their ancestry, insights into possible medical risks and can even identify previously unknown family members.
The boom in popularity of such kits has raised ethical and legal issues, since some companies have shared this data with law enforcement or sold it to third parties. The Defense Department is now expressing its own concerns about these kits.
“Exposing sensitive genetic information to outside parties poses personal and operational risks to Service members,” says the Dec. 20 memo signed by Joseph D. Kernan, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and James N. Stewart, the assistant secretary of defense for manpower. [Continue reading…]