23andMe Is a Dangerous Christmas Gift That Could Have Unforeseen Impacts on Your Entire Family, Your Children, Etc.
Every few years, I write an article about how it is generally not a good idea to voluntarily give your immutable genetic code to a for-profit company (or any other genetic database, for that matter), and how it is an even worse deal to pay money to do so. It is also not wise or ethical to gift a 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit to your loved ones for Christmas, their birthday, or any other reason.
Because our respective genetic code and the underlying business models of companies like 23andMe have not changed since I first wrote a version of this article in 2018, this article will be similar to those, but the message remains as important now as it does then: Doing 23andMe is an unretractable action that could have unforeseen ramifications not just for yourself but for your family or your possible offspring.
First, let’s address the fact that hackers recently accessed the personal data of about 14,000 23andMe customers. Because of how 23andMe works—it has a “DNA Relatives” feature that lets users find people they are probably related to—this breach created 6.9 million “other users” who had data stolen in the breach, according to reporting by TechCrunch. This data included people’s names, birth year, relationships, percentage of DNA shared with other 23andMe users, and ancestry reports.