We’ve all seen the commercials: Send a little swab, and you can find out whole new secrets about your family and its origins based on DNA.
For instance, one family that thought it was Hungarian found out it was really Portuguese, an ad says. Such a revelation can change your life.
There’s only one problem: that these services are “adding a treasure trove of DNA information to enormous datasets that are already being tapped by tech-savvy businesses,” according to a study by Wharton professors, titled Genetic Data: Potential Uses and Misuses in Marketing.
With 30 million people having done one of the swabs, this has led to “accumulation of massive genetic databases by privately owned companies, such as 23andMe and Ancestry,” says co-author Gideon Nave, an assistant professor at Wharton, in an interview with Knowledge@Wharton.