GENEALOGY-DNA-L Archives

Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-11 > 1131295137


From:
Subject: Re: [DNA] Question on Privacy Issues
Date: Sun, 6 Nov 2005 11:38:57 EST



In a message dated 11/6/2005 7:40:27 A.M. Central Standard Time,
writes:

William,
what kind of guarantee do we have in the U.S. that someone (law
enforcement, attorneys etc) cannot get the DNA results for other than
genealogical research?"

A good point made. Any assistance on how to properly address this issue
will be appreciated. This would probably affect all companies that do
the testing. Thanks in advance for your assistance in answering this
question.



This issue has been discussed on the list numerous times and you can find it
in the archives. However a summary might look like the following:

If law enforcement, or any other government agency, wants your DNA they can
get it more easily than surveying the genealogical companies to see if you
have tested with them. They aren't going to subpeona the entire database if
they are looking for one individual. Instead, they can serve you with a court
order or pick up a coffee cup you discarded from McDonald's or Starbucks or a
glass of water they gave you during questioning.

As to insurance companies (and employers), they can ask that it be drawn
during a required physical or from a cup of coffee, glass of water or a drug
test. Many of us guess that this horse has already left the barn for most of us.

All the companies involved, however, practice privacy protection. The lab
doesn't know whose DNA is being analyzed, for example. The testing companies
don't ask for social security or driver's license identification. The testing
company has only your Y-DNA or a limited portion of your mtDNA, which will
not identify a specific person. You may share your Y-DNA with dozens of
people! mtDNA may be hundreds. They will all destroy your DNA upon request.
It's possible, for instance, for your participant to order the test through you
using your name and address, and be totally "blind" to the test company. Any
agency or insurance company would have to know you had been tested, at which
company you had been tested and go through a lengthy legal process to get
your records and your sample from the lab. It's easier to get a court order
for John Q. Smith of such-and-such an address to supply a sample.

So there's very little risk of loss of privacy with genealogical DNA. You
have more to fear from your medical insurance or employer in this regard.

Anne


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