There is nothing more personal than one’s DNA. For the longest time, people have taken the test to determine a variety of things from paternity standings to criminal innocence. In most cases, the test is being used to determine ethnic origins. But the kit exposes one’s identity to a large database that can be used to steal personal information about one’s personhood. The Pentagon is warning all military members to avoid using the DNA kits because of the security risk that it can have.
The memo that was sent out to the military stated that “Exposing sensitive genetic information to outside parties poses personal and operational risks to Service members.” Many members of the military are in positions that could become compromised if certain pieces of information were to find its way into the hands of the enemies. This information could potentially open up the person to loss of identity or even compromise security within the military.
The memo stated that “These [direct-to-consumer] genetic tests are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission.” The risk of security leads one to wonder why the kits exist at all. The benefits of such kits are great, but the security they compromise is even worse.
The kits are sold by several companies but the most popular are the ones sold by Ancestry. They claim that a person can unlock their genetic past and identify where they came from. But a person’s DNA is their identity and sharing it is worse than losing a social security number. The test has helped some identify family members that were forgotten about by time. But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the information it all contains. Nothing is ever said as to what happens to the information once it is collected.
These kits are beginning to raise ethical and legal issues. The companies that sell the information are selling them to third parties. In effect, a person’s genetic information is available for the world to see. It appears that the sellers of these kits are targeting military people for a specific reason. One can only imagine who is behind this effort to obtain personal information about the members of the military and what they could use it for.
As is the fashion of the awesome United States military, the memo does not go into great detail as to the security risks that could be in danger. This is a good idea because people do not need to have these ideas put into the head. The memo did mention the “inaccuracies” that could come up with one’s health. The companies are required to notify the military if any members have a genetic issue that could lead to certain diseases or even cancer. In effect, a person that takes the test could end their career by doing so.
It is thought that the kit could jeopardize DNA based security measures, fingerprints, and even facial recognition if the information falls into the wrong hands. The kits could also expose agents in the field. This would put them in danger of being discovered and potentially harmed. CIA’s operatives cannot use aliases to travel when their DNA is used to identify who there are. A person in the CIA would be compromised because the DNA would expose. The threat that the military is issuing is very serious.
Erin Murphy from New York University School of Law stated that “It all boils down to the same basic idea. In a world in which a few stray cells can be used to identify a person, there is no such thing as covert action, and no such thing as anonymity.” She also stated that “It’s not hard to imagine a world where people are blithely sharing information online without realizing their third cousin is a Navy SEAL or an operative of the CIA.” The ability to blindly share information could become a hazard for all military soldiers because it will put them in harm’s way.