At-home DNA tests can tell us a lot about our ancestry, but volunteering your personal information like that can be asking for trouble.
If you've sent in DNA samples to companies like 23andMe, Ancestry, or one of the many genetic testing companies that have been popping up over the last couple years, you've essentially given them the building blocks of your DNA and paid them for the privilege. Those companies have your genetic material, so you may want to remove your genetic information and take control over your privacy.
It's possible to protect your genetic information, but the process will depend on which service you used. Here's how you can go about removing your genetic data and having your test sample destroyed with some of the biggest sites in the home genetic testing game.
And then next time, read the fine print, terms and conditions before you submit personal biological samples to a genetic testing company.
Delete your data from 23andMe
The site 23andMe is one of the most popular companies for genetic information, and the organization as well as third-party researchers and firms may use your data if you filled out a consent document. You can opt to have it deleted and/or destroyed from your account settings page by removing any consent you previously gave.
How to delete your data: Head to your account settings page and delete your information while logged into your account.
How to get your data destroyed: Your data shouldn't be stored by 23andMe unless you requested it specifically to be biobanked, which means it would be stored in the company's vaults. When you submit your test, your sample is supposed to be destroyed immediately following its analysis. If you did choose to have it stored originally and you want to change that, you can do that from your account settings page as well.
Delete your data from MyHeritage
MyHeritage can conduct research with your DNA if you consent for them to do so while signing up. If you accidentally gave them permission and now want to revoke it, you can do so via your personal account. The data it does share does not go to third-party researchers, but it could happen at a later date. Better to opt out now if that's a concern.
How to delete your data: Head to the Manage DNA Kits section of your account settings and delete your information. You can call into the MyHeritage customer support call center at 800-987-9000, or email in to have the information deleted.
How to get your data destroyed: You'll need to contact MyHeritage customer service by phone to have your samples discarded.
Delete your data from Ancestry
Ancestry and third-party searches can use your data for research if you agreed to this when you first opened your account. The good news is that you can opt out of this and future research projects with a quick trip to your account settings, which doesn't take very long to set up. Luckily, it doesn't make the process very difficult.
How to delete your data: Log into your Ancestry account, then look for the DNA tab. Choose Your DNA Results Summary, then Settings, then Delete Test Results. You'll be able to have your information removed from the company from here. Done and done.
How to get your data destroyed: You can start by deleting your account entirely if you don't want all your data to be destroyed, but if you don't feel like going to those extremes, you have other choices. You can request that your biological sample be destroyed by getting in touch with Ancestry's "member services" representatives. Go to support.ancestry.com, select Support Center and then Contact Us.
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Should you give your DNA to testing companies?
DNA testing companies promise to break down your genetic code if you send them a sample of saliva. They’re making billions, but at what cost to your privacy? Listen to this free Consumer Tech Update podcast for more on why you need to pay attention to their terms and conditions. Tap or click to listen to the latest from Kim in just one minute.