DNA testing companies launch privacy ‘coalition’ to protect consumer data

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Image: 23andMe

Genetic testing companies are forming a new coalition on best practices for handling DNA information and to promote the industry in Washington as lawmakers put more scrutiny on their privacy practices.

Three companies — Ancestry, 23andMe and Helix, which provide DNA testing and analysis — formed the Coalition for Genetic Data Protection.

[Coalition executive director Steve] Haro said the coalition would allow the industry to “let Congress know what the best practices are for protecting customers’ data and also to show their customers that they’re deserving of their trust.”

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Questions intensified after law enforcement officials in California used an ancestry database to help identify the Golden State Killer, a serial killer and rapist who eluded authorities for decades.

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In cases across the country, police have used ancestry testing data to help identify other suspects. Following the controversy, the largest ancestry companies said they wouldn’t allow police to access their databases without a warrant. But privacy advocates said more safeguards were needed.

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[23andMe’s chief legal officer Kathy] Hibbs said 23andMe is open to other companies joining the coalition, but they would have to agree to adhere to the best practices in the white paper to join.

Read full, original post: DNA testing companies launch new privacy coalition

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