A leading genealogy service, Ancestry.com, has denied exploiting users’ DNA following criticism of its terms and conditions. The US company’s DNA testing service has included a right to grant Ancestry a “perpetual” licence to use customers’ genetic material. A New York data protection lawyer spotted the clause and published a blog warning about privacy implications. Ancestry told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours its terms were being changed. Headquartered in Utah, Ancestry is among the world’s largest for-profit genealogy firms, with a DNA testing service available in more than 30 countries. The company, which uses customers’ saliva samples to predict their genetic ethnicity and find new family connections, claims to have more than 4 million DNA profiles in its database. Ancestry also stores the profiles forever, unless users ask for them to be destroyed. The company’s terms and conditions have stated that users grant the company a “perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide, sublicensable, transferable license” to their DNA data, for purposes including “personalised products and services”. In a statement to You and Yours, an Ancestry spokesperson said the company “never takes ownership of a customer’s data” and would “remove the perpetuity clause”. It added: “We will honour our commitment to delete user data or destroy their DNA sample if they request it. The user is in control.”

No Comments

Leave a Comment