Have you or anyone in your family considered using DNA testing services of companies like 23andMe or Ancestry.com? One former FBI agent is warning against the use of such websites, citing privacy as a concern.
In a TikTok video, retired FBI agent Steve Lazarus (@steve.lazarus.books) speaks about the potential risks involved in using home DNA test kits. The video, posted on Dec. 11 as part of his “Things I would never do as an FBI agent” series, has garnered over 5.3 million views.
Lazarus begins the video by stating, “Today’s topic is those home DNA test kits that promise to put you in contact with family members you never knew existed. For me, it’s a hard no. And if you wanted the reason in one word, it’s privacy.”
The retired FBI agent then delves into the potential risks associated with sharing DNA data with these companies. He cites a 2019 case in which a detective in Florida obtained a court order allowing him to conduct a search of over a million records in a DNA database to find a subject.
The case, which involved a genealogy company GEDmatch, was covered in a New York Times article, which stated “the Florida judge’s decision will affect not only the users of these sites but huge swaths of the population, including those who have never taken a DNA test. That’s because this emerging forensic technique makes it possible to identify a DNA profile even through distant family relationships.”
However, according to Lazarus, concerns about privacy extend beyond law enforcement: “Do you really think a health insurance company wouldn’t want a copy of your DNA when they’re deciding whether or not to grant your coverage or to allow you to get a treatment for an existing or a pre-existing condition?” he asks.
Lazarus also mentions the vulnerability of DNA data companies to hacking and the potential ethical implications if a DNA testing company undergoes a change in ownership. “What if they get taken over by another company that doesn’t share their moral or their ethical views?” he warns.
@steve.lazarus.books If you enjoy topics around the #FBI, I just released a new book called Call Me Sonny. 📕 It’s a FBI thriller and out now! The book is based off of real events in my FBI Career! Tap the link in the bio to learn more. #authorsoftiktok #authorsrecommendation #authorswriting #authorspromotingtheirbooks #authorsofbooktok #authorstoread #authorswritingprocess #bestpsychologicalbookthrillers #darkpsychologicalthrillerbooks #howtomakeathrillerbookinteresting #suspensefulbooks #suspense #thriller #booksoftiktok #bookstoread #books #bookworm ♬ Creepy simple horror ambient(1270589) – howlingindicator
In the comment section of the video users shared their own stories of using 23andme or other similar services, while others expressed their concerns about the potential misuse of their DNA.
“I always felt like those kits were suspicious,” one commenter wrote.
“Some family members are better not to find,” a second added.
“Without the DNA test kit, I would’ve never found seven of my siblings who are looking for me,” a third commenter said.
“It’s true but to be fair NOTHING AND NO ONE IS SAFE so WTH might as well,” another remarked.
The Daily Dot reached out to Steve Lazarus via TikTok direct messages for comment.