Privacy campaigners have criticised genealogy company Ancestry.com for continuing to keep customers’ DNA data. The move comes despite the firm axing a controversial “perpetuity clause” from its terms and conditions.
It has now emerged that while Ancestry did change the wording of its small print, in practice users’ DNA records are still not deleted unless requested. The UK’s data protection watchdog, the office of the Information Commissioner, told the BBC that Ancestry complied with current rules, which do not require companies to routinely delete individuals’ DNA profiles. Based in Utah, AncestryDNA tells customers about their genetic ethnicity through saliva samples and claims to have more than four million DNA profiles in its database.
The company’s terms and conditions formerly granted it a “perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide, sub-licensable, transferable licence” to users’ DNA data, for purposes including “personalised products and services”. Following criticism of its plans to keep DNA samples forever, the company removed the offending word, “perpetual”. “Customers own their DNA and data and control what we do with it,” a representative told You and Yours.
“There is no need for Ancestry DNA to hold on to this information any longer than is necessary after they have given back the results,” said a [Big Brother Watch group] representative.
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