I know quite a few people who have happily sent the most personal information they have, their DNA, to some company in return for a report telling them their ancestry by percentages. My feeling about this has been, go to town, have fun with it, but don’t expect me to do the same. Same deal with those step-counting devices which send data back to the company. No way would I ever do that. It never occurred to me though, that the report you get from the DNA company might not have some kind of scientific accuracy.
CBC’s Marketplace has looked into this. They sent the DNA of a pair of identical twins to 5 of these companies. Since identical twins have nearly identical DNA (the article says 99.6% the same raw data, statistically identical), it’s reasonable to expect that each sister would have the same DNA profile results – but that isn’t what they received. Check out the article about this on the CBC website.
Are the results for one of the twins or both of them correct, or both of them way off base? Who knows. Is one company more accurate than the others? Who knows? It may be that the companies are doing their best to provide accurate results and they may offer reasons for the discrepancies. That hardly matters, though if you can’t trust the results, does it? The CBC says there is no government or professional oversight to this industry. The CBC’s little experiment suggests to me that these DNA profiles provide some entertainment value, but best not get too hung up on them.
I think it’s best just not to give them your data. I’m no privacy freak. I don’t live off the grid. I use a cell phone. I have a Facebook account. I use the internet. I use a debit card and occasionally a credit card. I even have a grocery store points card. I draw the line at the step counters. Not happening. Sending anyone my DNA? No way.