CNET Asks: Do you trust ancestry sites to keep your DNA safe?

Finding out your ancestry can be an amazing thing. But is it worth it to sign up for a DNA registry?

Nicolas Towner
2 min read
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Have you ever wanted to learn more about you and your family's heritage? Where your extended family comes from? Millions of people have this desire to find out more about their background. The DNA registries 23andme and AncestryDNA, and others like them, have provided this and more.

At first glance it seems like a fun way to connect with your family history. Maybe learn a little about yourself. Perhaps confirm the family folklore that's been passed down from generation to generation. They can even tell you if you have predispositions for certain diseases, or what types of food you may prefer. While all this sounds positive, there are other factors to consider.

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While these sites adhere to strict security and privacy policies, they are not invincible. Many companies in the past have fallen victim to data breaches and these sites could potentially be a big target. In addition to security concerns, there is also recent research done by Columbia University that claims more than half of the American population of European ancestry can now be identified through relatives who have registered their DNA. 

The ramifications of this are that more people will identifiable through DNA, as more people register for these sites. So, before you willingly send your DNA to an internet company via a spit tube, make sure you understand what you're signing up for, and bear in mind you're identifying not only yourself but your whole extended family.

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This isn't to scare you, but rather to get your opinion and see where you stand. Do these security concerns bother you? Or perhaps the fact you can be identified without actually offering up your own DNA? Or maybe you're still interested in seeing from where your forefathers hail. Either way, let us know in the comments and participate in the poll below.