Armed Forces News

DoD has warned service members about submitting their genomes to for-profit companies.

The Department of Defense has said that service members should stay away from commercial vendors who solicit direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The information garnered from such tests could be used for unwanted purposes and perhaps somehow compromise national security in the process.

The Pentagon spelled out guidelines in a memorandum issued last month.

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“Exposing sensitive genetic information to outside parties poses personal and operational risks to service members,” Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Joseph D. Kernan and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs James N. Stewart stated in the memorandum.

They additionally stated that the results of such tests are not necessarily trustworthy. The possibility of inaccuracy poses a greater threat to service members than their civilian counterparts, they wrote, because of the tests’ requirements to disclose medical information.

“Moreover, there is increased concern in the scientific community that outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic data for questionable purposes, including mass surveillance and the ability to track individuals without their authorization or awareness.”

Technology in the gene science and technology space is proceeding at a breakneck pace. At the very least the possibility of one’s genetic information being compromised in an all-too-common mass data breach should give anyone pause, given unknowable ramifications for oneself or even one’s heirs.