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Security & privacy

If you used this ancestry site, remove your data now

Genealogy websites have become increasingly popular in recent years. These platforms are able to scour the web in search of documents and archival data, which can help users build historically accurate family trees.

There’s also another side to genealogy websites that has attracted attention from privacy advocates: DNA testing. Websites like Ancestry.com can use DNA testing to find matches, but the fact that these platforms store this information on their end means that hackers could try and steal it. Tap or click here to see how Ancestry.com suffered a huge data breach.

Since genealogy websites collect so much data, their user database can be quite valuable in the corporate world. And that’s exactly what’s happening to Ancestry.com thanks to an acquisition by Blackstone — its new parent company. This means if you sent your DNA to Ancestry, Blackstone has it now. Here’s how you can remove it.

Blackstone buys out Ancestry.com

According to new reports from Reuters, the multinational private equity firm Blackstone Group has purchased Ancestry.com for the staggering price of $4.7 billion. This acquisition includes all debt accumulated by Ancestry.com as well, which shows just how eager Blackstone is to add the company into its vast portfolio.

Now that Ancestry.com is under new management, you’re probably wondering what kind of company The Blackstone Group is? Well, for starters, Blackstone deals mostly with private equity, credit and hedge fund investments. Most of its properties are in the financial sector, which makes Ancestry.com a curious purchase altogether.

But if you read between the lines, you can see why the website is so valuable. Ancestry.com is the biggest provider of home DNA testing services, which users can apply towards finding genealogy data and personalized health information.

Ancestry.com boasts more than 3 million paying customers from around the world, and the DNA data it manages is highly valuable to anyone who would be interested in selling it to, say, pharmaceutical companies or medical data firms. It’s almost a no-brainer that a big hedge-fund company would want a slice of the pie.

Of course, if you submitted DNA information to Ancestry.com, this also means your data is at risk of being sold or traded. No, this isn’t illegal either. Once you give the information to Ancestry.com, it’s theirs to use. The terms and conditions more or less spell this out. Tap or click here to see a tool that can read the terms and conditions of websites for you.

I don’t want a hedge fund having access to my DNA. How can I remove the data?

Thankfully, if you’re a member of Ancestry.com, you don’t have to settle with leaving your DNA data in Blackstone’s hands. The website gives you an option to expunge your DNA results through its settings menu, and all you’ll need to do it is your Ancestry.com username and password.

Follow these steps to remove your DNA data from Ancestry.com:

  1. Tap or click here to visit Ancestry.com’s DNA settings page.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the Settings page and tap Delete next to Delete DNA Test Results And Revoke Consent to Processing. You’ll be asked for your password next to confirm you want your information removed.
  3. Enter your password and tap Delete test results and Revoke Consent. Clicking this removes your results permanently from the website.

Unfortunately, you’ll end up losing access to anything you might have learned from taking your test, so we’d recommend writing the information down or taking a screenshot or two before continuing.

Then again, it might not even be worth it to take these DNA tests or use genealogy websites going forward. As we’ve seen in the past, they contain a lot of personal data (that can be bought or sold by third parties) for very little in return. Tap or click here to see another scary ancestry website you should remove your data from.

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