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Why You Should Avoid Using Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com has been in the business of personal genetic-tracking for a while – allowing many consumers to discover their ancestry for an approximated cost of $100. And while some consumers may be eager to find out about their ancestry background, most of them are scared of discovering certain genomes that are disturbing. However, most skeptical scientists have always claimed that the datasets used may not be accurate.

Despite the skeptics and the anxiety that comes with discovering your ancestry, consumers seem to have forgotten about their privacy. The level of privacy attributed to DNA tests is often in question but, no one seems to take note. For instance, Ancestry.com has been on the forefronts of violating its users’ privacy among other flaws crawled by the company. Here are the reasons you should avoid Ancestry.com.

Ancestry.com will not hesitate to share your DNA information with Authorities

According to USA Today, Ancestry.com admitted that they would not hesitate to share your DNA information with authorities if issued with a court order. Fortune, also confirmed that Ancestry.com and other third-party companies were involved in a case where they shared the suspect’s information with the intelligence agencies. Marcy Darnovsky, speaking about the Golden State Killer’s case, she warned that when you, the consumer is issuing your personal information to these DNA testing companies (Ancestry.com), you also end up giving data belonging to your relatives, which is risky in many ways.

Ancestry takes DNA information ownership from its clients

Center for Genetics and Society’s Joel Winston talks of the dangers of not reading the Terms of Service as well as the Privacy Policy of companies like Ancestry.com. He rightfully argues that according to these legal contracts, you still share your information with Ancestry.com – once you’ve been their client. Even worse, Ancestry.com in their Privacy policy has the right to dictate the ownership of your DNA, to a limited number of years. Looking at this privacy policy of the company, it beats logic in every way, despite their constant claims of transparency with your data.

It’s not clear where Ancestry.com’s source datasets come from

It is arguably unclear where the datasets used by Ancestry.com to perform DNA history tracing, originate from. Thus, trusting the results, they provide you should not be the case anymore. In May 2018, Forbes published a guest report from Quora. A question had been raised on the Quora platform raising concerns where companies like Ancestry.com get their datasets they use in the various DNA tracing they conduct. A user gave his seemingly right argument that these companies (Ancestry.com) remain unclear. The user, however, proceeded to argue that these companies used a geographical range of populations and the number of individuals in these geographic regions to determine ancestral origins.

Moreover, Ancestry.com’s Genealogy, Family Trees and Family History records openly admit that there are restrictions to sourcing these datasets. The user concluded to say that apart from ancestry, other commercial DNA test results represent the current geographic distribution of different population clusters occupying the area at the time of data collection. Clearly, this information has a number of assumptions made, like the possibilities of earlier inhabitants of the region.

Ancestry.com’s client retained data is prone to hackers

Since Ancestry.com retains the right to store your DNA information as well as your account information, they are prone to cyber-attacks. In 2017, Francis Navarro published a report on Komando about an Ancestry.com data breach. In his report, he said that Ancestry.com had confirmed that its RootsWeb’s servers exposed a file containing user account details. RootsWeb is the company’s free platform of collective tools for sharing information like user forums and mailing lists. Francis further adds that a contributor of HaveIbeenPwned site claimed that the information compromised was later leaked online in plain text.

Earlier on, VentureBeat published a report, stating that Ancestry.com was attacked by an unknown massive DDoS attack, which caused the company to shut down for nearly a day. According to them, the cyber-attack flooded the company’s servers with fake traffic that assumed the identity of a verified visitor on the site. Even though no personal data was compromised, it begs the questions why the company has not put in measures to protect the sensitive information they are entitled to.

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