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A few points… (Note: I am not affiliated with Ancestry.com in any way. I originally posted this as a comment on a friend’s facebook post, which is why some of it comes across as hyperlinks, and I’m too lazy to go through and remove them one by one.)

“The AncestryDNA terms also requires customers to confirm that, ‘You understand that by providing any DNA to us, you acquire no rights in any research or commercial products that may be developed by AncestryDNA that may relate to or otherwise embody your DNA.’ Essentially, you still own your DNA, but so does Ancestry.com. And, you can commercialize your own DNA for money, but Ancestry.com is also allowed to monetize your DNA for millions of dollars and doesn’t have to compensate you.”

^ That’s standard practice in the world of genetics. Think Henrietta Lacks or John Moore (of Moore v. Regents of the University of California).

“Although AncestryDNA customers provide voluntary consent to have their DNA used in commercial research projects, customers are free to withdraw consent, with a few exceptions. First, ‘data cannot be withdrawn from research already in progress or completed, or from published results and findings.’ In those cases, Ancestry.com has access to data about you indefinitely.”

^ Again, standard. It would be near impossible to retroactively pinpoint one person’s randomized data from a study that’s already ongoing. Nor could you remove it from research that’s already been published without compromising the findings.

“Buried in the ‘Informed Consent’ section, which is incorporated into the Terms of Service, Ancestry.com warns customers, ‘it is possible that information about you or a genetic relative could be revealed, such as that you or a relative are carriers of a particular disease. That information could be used by insurers to deny you insurance coverage, by law enforcement agencies to identify you or your relatives, and in some places, the data could be used by employers to deny employment.’”

^ In the US, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and HIPAA largely prevent this. These are scary sounding things, but they’re already illegal in many places. In those places that they aren’t, they probably will be very soon, especially as genetic testing grows in popularity.

“Notably, no federal laws regulate the use of genetic information, genetic testing, and genetic discrimination for life insurance companies, long-term care insurers, and employers.”

^ Blatantly false. Employers are specifically covered under GINA.

“By consenting to the AncestryDNA Terms and Conditions, ‘you or a genetic relative’ agree to hold the company harmless for any damages that AncestryDNA may cause unintentionally or purposefully.”

^ You can’t agree to something for someone else, nor can you waive someone else’s legal rights. They can put it in the terms and conditions, but that doesn’t mean it would stand up in a court of law.

“The final indignity for Ancestry.com customers is that they must waive fundamental legal rights by agreeing to mandatory binding arbitration.”

^ Again, standard industry practice in the US. Practically every contract (in the form of “Terms and Conditions”) anyone has ever agreed to has required that they agree to mandatory binding arbitration. Ancestry.com is hardly alone in that.

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