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US military warns personnel against using DIY DNA testing kits

(Image credit: Pixabay)

The Pentagon has advised all military personnel against using consumer DNA testing kits.

According to a leaked internal memo, the data collected by the companies providing the kits could provide a security risk.

The memo states this has become a particular concern in recent months after several DNA testing companies directly targeted military personnel with discounts to encourage them to sign up.

Security risk

Companies such as 23andMe, Living DNA, and AncestryDNA, sell home DNA testing kits that allow people to look more closely at their own genetic profile. In most instances the information provided is little more than you could discover by looking in the mirror, such as your expected eye or hair color.

A follow up investigation by the New York Times had a Pentagon spokesperson suggest the issue was more about how such results might affect personnel, because the US military does not have to ignore medical results of DNA testing. Therefore any potential genetic health markers may affect career progression.

However, another concern could be how much of this information might be sold on to third parties, such as state actors, who could use the DNA data to engineer profiles of the US military.

The memo is reportedly dated for Dec 20, and signed by Jospeh D. Kernan, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and James N. Stewart, assistant secretary of defense for manpower.

Brian Turner

Brian has over 30 years publishing experience as a writer and editor across a range of computing and technology titles, and has been interviewed multiple times for BBC News and BBC Radio. His specialty on Techradar is Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, covering everything from office suites to IT service tools. He is also a science fiction and fantasy author, writing as Brian G Turner.