Maybe it is time to stay away from Ancestry.com

 

On the other hand… what could possibly go wrong now?

Maybe it is time to stay away from Ancestry.com /img/ancestry-dna.jpg

Ancestry.com is the world’s largest online family history tracer, with 3m paying subscribers and $1bn in annual revenue. The company [also] allows subscribers to search through its extensive database or send in a DNA sample to trace their family tree. The slogans on Ancestry’s home page (*) offer customers to:

  • “help you understand your genealogy”
  • “give you much more than just the places you’re from”
  • give you “insight into the past, present, and future of your family’s health” (or your ethnicity)

In early 2020, Ancestry even said that its scientists had identified a DNA link that could explain why coronavirus “seems to take a greater toll on men than women”. Later in the year, Ancestry launched a screening service designed to test individuals’ risk of developing inheritable health conditions such as heart disease, breast cancer and colon cancer.

This month, Blackstone, which is one of the biggest private equity groups in the world “agreed to buy a close to 75% stake in Ancestry.com, in a deal valued at $4.7bn including debt.”

Why? Because, as one of the sources listed below says:

“Private equity firms have businesses across industries with a duty to their investors to maximize profits, and the whole idea for collecting a large amount of personal data is to leverage it across different business lines.” Especially when it is DNA, that is unique personal data that, unlike names or credit card numbers people cannot change. (as I explained thirteen years ago, by the way).

Placing your DNA information, together with your relationships with other people and their own health histories, in computers owned by a company that needs to make as much profit as possible also by selling drugs, and health insurance? What could possibly go wrong? After all, the tentation to profile the best or worst potential customers would be almost inexistant, wouldn’t it?

Further reading

For more explanations of why you should stay away from Ancestry.com, or any other similar service, please read (at least):

(*) (This post was drafted in August 2020, but only put online later, because… my coronavirus reports, of course

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