Searching your genetic ancestry can certainly be fun: You can trace the migration patterns of 10,000-year-old ancestors, or discover whether a distant relative ruled a continent or rode on the Mayflower. But the technology can just as easily unearth more private acts—infidelities, sperm donations, adoptions—of more recent generations, including previously unknown behaviors of your grandparents, parents, and even spouses. Family secrets have never been so vulnerable.
The bigger these databases become, the more useful they are for filling in genealogists’ ever-expanding family trees. But this network effect also raises serious privacy concerns—not only for people who buy the tests, but for close or even distant family members who share some of their DNA.
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- “Poking Holes in Genetic Privacy,” New York Times
- “Genetic privacy,” Nature
- “How to use 23andMe without giving up your genetic privacy,” VentureBeat