Pentagon Memo Warns Against Identification Risks of Consumer Genetic Testing

That horse has left the barn.


A new Defense Department memo warns that direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing "could expose personal and genetic information, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increase risk to the joint force and mission." The memo adds that "there is increased concern in the scientific community that outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic data for questionable purposes, including mass surveillance and the ability to track individuals without their authorization or awareness. Until notified otherwise, [Department of Defense] military personnel are advised to refrain from the purchase and/or use of DTC genetic services."

Way too late.

Some 26 million Americans have already used DTC genetic testing services to gain insights into their health risks and ancestry. By one estimate, it was possible in 2018 to use these DTC databases to personally identify 140 million Americans of European descent using genetic information uploaded by themselves and their relatives. It is projected that as many as 100 million Americans will have used such genetic testing services in the next two years. At that point, almost any American could be identified by matching their DNA to that of their relatives in online databases. In other words, we users of genetic testing services have been voluntarily creating "a de facto national DNA database." To use the hoary, but apt cliche: The Pentagon is closing the barn door well after the horses have stampeded out.

Given how pervasive and much more easily deployed facial recognition technology is, I can hardly wait to read the DoD memo warning troops not to post their photos on Facebook.

While it is not possible to rein in genetic and facial recognition surveillance technologies in dictatorships like China and Russia, Americans should urgently seek to do so through legislation in Congress.

Disclosure: Any would-be criminal relatives are on notice that my DNA test results are publicly available.

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  1. Even Communist China does not require all of its citizens to give DNA samples.

    Americans who tend to think new technology is fantastic no matter what the downsides might be now have formed a de facto national DNA database.

    There is little time left to make a Constitutional amendment naming state and federal use of this genealogy DNA database a capital crime where death is the only available punishment.

    1. The only Constitutional Amendment I want is an Equal Rights Amendment. OK, and maybe one that eliminates the Electoral College.

      1. Eliminate the Electoral College? Of course you want to eliminate colleges, you bitter, uneducated clinger!!!

        1. The Electoral College is for those that can’t get into an Electoral University.

          1. That’s why AOC is so bitter about it.

      2. I too support an Equal Rights Amendment. I’m getting really tired of this “some animals are more equal than others” crap where the rule-makers regularly exempt themselves from the rules the rest of us have to follow and if it takes amending the Constitution to put things back in their proper balance, I’m all for it.

        1. I want a Simon Says amendment. It would do nothing except add “Simon says,” at the beginning of each clause of the Constitution.

          Apparently neglecting to do this authorized the courts to ignore large parts of the Constitution…

    2. “this genealogy DNA database”

      The part that Bailey didn’t stress enough is the genealogical aspect. It’s genetic data *plus* people putting in their family trees.

      You can make your living family members private to your tree, but somehow I suspect the FBI won’t have too much of a problem getting that “private” data.

      I’ve got some first or second cousin who was a sperm donor, so I’m related to about 70 people with the same sperm donor Dad. They’ve got a facebook page. It was actually kind of complicated tracking him down, as I don’t have that part of my family tree and *he’s* apparently not the biological son of his father either. But with all the genetic matching plus family trees, people can be triangulated pretty easily.

      That’s another thing families are going to find out. Grandma was a hussy. Someone else who appeared to be a near relative in my tree finally compared DNA with me. Very distant match. Ooops. Somebody is wrong about who’s their daddy.

      They’re not even doing all they should with the data they have yet, as they aren’t correlating their ethnic data with arm of the dna spiral you match a person to.

      By the way, if you’re young, healthy, and smart, and want to make sure you spread your seed, donating sperm apparently works.

      1. ” I suspect the FBI won’t have too much of a problem getting that “private” data.”

        One thing we do not have a good handle on is the actual rate of genetic chimerism in the general population. We assume it is quite small. But the question is: Is it so small that all those statistical associations are still valid?

  2. Remember when Elizabeth Warren used genetic testing to prove she is, in fact, Native American? How embarrassing for Republicans — their favorite anti-Warren talking point was scientifically debunked!


    1. Imagine how embarrassed the Republicans will be when she releases her job applications and proves she never tried to get a preference for being a Native American!

      1. Harvard was publicly touting Ms. Lily White as a diversity hire. But I’m sure that fact the desperately spread had nothing at all to do with her being hired.
        “a Harvard Law School spokesman was calling her the school’s only Native American professor as early as Oct. 22, 1996, in a Harvard Crimson article.”

        If you had cared to find out the facts, it took less than a minute to do so.

  3. And the most wonderful glorious part is that my relatives can put me out there for identification without my consent or even knowledge.

    1. The 4th Amendment should still apply where the state needs a warrant based upon probable cause to get any DNA information but the 4A was neutered decades ago.

    2. New law. You can only submit your DNA if you get written permission from all genetic relatives within a specified range. To ensure compliance, the government will need DNA samples from everyone.

  4. “Disclosure: Any would-be criminal relatives are on notice that my DNA test results are PUBLICLY available.”

    Ron’s idea of familial love and loyalty is giving his relatives a running head start and not sanctuary, from the law. And by “would-be criminals” he must be referring to his relatives that are too young to charge because the rest are most assuredly guilty of something, amirite. In Ron’s defense, a slightly more contemptuous but less sporting cocksucker would actually submit their relatives’ DNA to as Christmas presents.

    Ron, put your DNA back in the closet where it belongs so your relatives are not wishing you were adopted.

    1. Bailey still believes that teaming with the Socialists will save him from the “People’s” firing squad.

  5. “could expose personal and genetic information, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increase risk to the joint force and mission.”

    Something something goose, gander. I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of people bravely defending this nation against enemies both foreign and domestic who are quite happily hoovering up as much DNA data as they possibly can against those evil bastard terrorists known as the American public at the same time they’re whining right along side you that they never meant for the same consequences to apply to the King’s Men as to the peasantry.

  6. Re the Pentagon memo warning about genetic testing: What I think is that the Pentagon doesn’t want anyone ELSE taking soldiers’ DNA. Surely the military keeps its own collection of every troop’s DNA.

    1. I left the US Navy as they were requiring all sailors to provide DNA samples under the guise that they would only be used to compare to MIA remains. They evidently kept the DNA sample service records but I am sure they are simply uploaded into some DoD database now.

      1. 1997 was as far as they made it before opening up that database for criminal investigations.

    2. Surely the military keeps its own collection of every troop’s DNA.
      That they do. They store it for possible use in battlefield casualty identification. I don’t recall any promise to destroy the sample on discharge from service.

      1. We need only imagine the technological advances in genetics 20-30 years from now and then we can posit what the military is really afraid of, and what they’ve really been documenting the soldiers’ dna for.

        So, what control over people could you obtain from knowing their dna?

      2. “I don’t recall any promise to destroy the sample on discharge from service.”

        Would you believe them even if they did?

  7. I have no idea why people get those ridiculous things.

  8. I’ll give em my DNA

  9. Pentagon Memo Warns Against Identification Risks of Consumer Genetic Testing

    But not its own genetic database that its been building since the mid-1990’s.

  10. I’m too lazy to ask The Google… And who knows, maybe the act of asking The Google might get me more red-flagged than I already might be?

    What is to prevent me from making up a made-up name… Mackery Mousse, say… And mail my spit in for an analysis? I get to know my ethic ancestry and disease susceptibility (to an approximation at least), but the snoops do NOT know who I am! How many hoops would I have to jump through, to do that? Contacts and cohorts among Russian spies, Mafioso, Congress-Slimes, what?

    Surely the likes of 23andMe don’t have (and use) a national database of “papers please”, of E-verify, of who is a “real boy”?

    1. If I re-name myself “Pedro Gonzales” to get my DNA testing done, using my real address, will I be disappeared mysteriously, into the “night and fog”, by ICE, and wake up in Mexico? With (bar coded?) tattoos that I don’t recall getting?

      1. I seriously doubt it. And those women wearing “Handmaid” outfits? It’s cosplay.

  11. OT Post: Fairly short but good read.

    Opinion: Your electric car and vegetarian diet are pointless virtue signaling in the fight against climate change
    By Bjorn Lomborg

    I just got done replacing just about every single incandescent bulb in my house, with LED lights. The latest (especially at Costco and Amazon) price-points on LEDs (plus energy / money savings) MADE me do it!!!! I’m glad I did… Now I am DONE tree-hugging, for a good long while!

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