Pentagon warns military against threat of at-home DNA kits

(Photo - Defense.gov)

Pentagon warns military against threat of at-home DNA kits

They’re targeting veterans with discounts and specials… but what they’re doing with the test results is a major threat to our nation’s security.

 

While it may seem like the perfect Christmas gift for members of your family, the Pentagon issued a stern warning to members of the armed services about the risk of using at-home DNA test kits.

23 and Me, Ancestry.com, Home DNA… the list goes on and on.

Users take a DNA swab test and mail it in to the company, who in turn will test it and will provide results showing users where they’re from, their historical background and more.

Cool, right?

Maybe not so much.

But where is that information headed after you get your results back?

It’s being kept in a database… and in a lot of situations, it’s being sold to others. 

“Maybe you’re doing it for fun or for laughs or for conversation at the holiday table, but at the end of the day you may have a good time but the company now can sell that information 100 different ways,” Peter Pitts, of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, told NBC News in 2017 .

It’s another one of those cases where users should pay a bit more attention to the “Terms and Conditions” before blindly turning over a unique piece of their body’s makeup. 

And now tens of millions of people who have used these kits may be at risk of having their data sold to the highest bidder.

“You don’t want that information displayed to other people,” he added. “Ultimately you don’t want an employer to have access to your information.”

And right before Christmas, the Pentagon issued a stern warning to active and retired members of the United States military, letting them know the potential dangers of using one of these services.

Pentagon warns military against threat of at-home DNA kits

The Pentagon issued a stern warning for military members against the DNA kits.

 

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Joseph Kernan and James Stewart, acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, issued a memo to armed services members noting that that DNA test companies have been targeting members of the military by offering special discounts and other undisclosed incentives.

But the results could be detrimental to those who are serving our country. 

“These DTC (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,” they said in the memo last week.

The results being shared to employers or leaked to the wrong people could actually affect their career and overall livelihood. 

“The unintentional discovery of markers that may affect readiness could affect a service member’s career, and the information from DTC genetic testing may disclose this information,” the memo continued.

According to experts, these companies are using this huge quantity of data in order to exploit people — and veterans are even more at risk than general consumers. 

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

Mass surveillance without authorization or awareness. Nice.

disabled Navy veteran

(Photo courtesy navylive.dodlive.mil)

 

And, not to mention, no one is keeping these companies in check.

“Tests that provide health information have varying levels of validity, and many are not reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration before they are offered,” the memo said.

But companies like 23 and Me are fighting back, saying that they’re protecting their consumer’s information with “utmost efforts” to keep private stuff, well… private.

They claim that they’re not sharing the information with employers or insurance companies without expressed written consent via a lengthy form.

“Customers are in control of how their data is shared, and how their data is stored,” the spokesperson said. “They can choose to have their sample stored at our lab, or have it destroyed. They can also download their information and close their account at any time.”

Ancestry also chimed in after the memo began spreading through social media and news feeds.

“Ancestry does not share customer DNA data with insurers, employers, or third-party marketers,” she added. “Ancestry will also not share customer personal information with law enforcement unless compelled to by valid legal process, such as a court order or search warrant.”

But… does anyone actually believe that? Facebook said they weren’t turning on your phone’s microphone in order to listen and learn more about your habits or your desires. 

Then they admitted that wasn’t exactly the truth… but claimed it was okay because other companies were engaged in that type of behavior too. 

The fact is, companies want your data. They want access into who you are, what you like, where you shop, what you eat, how you spend your time and money and so much more. And acting like they don’t share or sell that information is a load of crap. Because they’ve been caught time and time again… yet barely ever face repercussions for their actions. 

And why would we believe them, anyway?

Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.

Pentagon warns military against threat of at-home DNA kits

 

Just look at how platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook block stories about police and law enforcement.

Just last month, we reported on Law Enforcement Today about how our National Spokesman, Kyle Reyes, was potentially getting shadow banned on the likes of LinkedIn.

When something happens once or twice, then perhaps it can be brushed off as a fluke, but once that cadence increases you have yourself a trend. This time around, it seems that the overlords at LinkedIn aren’t too keen on our spokesman’s sharing of pro-police content.

On LinkedIn alone, Kyle Reyes has a following of over 20,000 people on the platform. If we take a dive into the data of LinkedIn users and their activity, you can see that there’s something wrong with postings getting lost into the algorithmic abyss of content.

Pentagon warns military against threat of at-home DNA kits

 

There’s roughly 630 million people on LinkedIn with profiles, with a total of approximately 303 million users engaged on the platform monthly. So slightly over 48 percent of LinkedIn’s users are online, using the platform, during the month.

So, in theory, that about 9,600 eyeballs that should see some of Reyes’ content on their feed. Many articles get hundreds to thousands of interactions through the platform, but we’ve seen a dip in police related content.

One example is from a post that was on the platform for over 24 hours regarding an NYPD officer being gunned down by friendly fire. While many articles and posts can exceed over 100 interactions within an hours’ time, this post managed to have three total interactions. Two “likes” and a comment.

In another example screen shot below, our spokesman shared an article pertaining to the growing number of police suicides. Over 24 hours on the platform, and only four “likes”. People following Kyle Reyes on the platform know exactly the kind of content he shares, so it’s certainly not a matter of disinterest from the intended audience, it’s blatant shadow banning of content.

Pentagon warns military against threat of at-home DNA kits

 

There’s simply example after example present within the past few weeks of something nefarious going on in the background of LinkedIn’s algorithms. After keeping a closer on the distributed content, it’s hard not to spot the trend that we’re seeing here: there’s no place for pro-police content on LinkedIn.

We were initially alerted to something fishy going on when Kyle Reyes was notified, back in November, by one of his many connections that they were completely unable to share some of Kyle’s content on their feed.

A link to pro-police Law Enforcement Today article that displayed a “share button, when clicked by the user, stated: “Sorry, we couldn’t find that post. Let’s try again.”

“Sorry, we couldn’t find that post. Let’s try again.”

LinkedIn censors article about Drew Stokes being shot

Of course, trying again for the user was completely moot, as the error came up again and again. To make matters all the more intriguing, that user wasn’t even able to “like” or comment on the shared post.

When instances like that are brought to one’s attention in the past, then being coupled by the fact that there’s pieces of content that traditionally get hundreds, if not thousands, of interactions on the platform suddenly getting near zero; it can  make one wonder who else is experiencing this and not saying anything.

LinkedIn censors article about Drew Stokes being shot

If you genuinely consider how often someone might chalk something up to being a “glitch”, without being able to see if anyone else had the issue; you can get the idea of how clever shadow banning methods are. It can topically appear as there being no issue at all, but we’re here to call it what it is.

If you, or anyone you know, are having difficulty “liking”, sharing, or even commenting on any content; then it might just not be a glitch. When you encounter it, call it out, as that is the only way to address this kind of censoring of the kind of content you’ve asked to see.

 


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About The Author

The staff of Law Enforcement Today is comprised of career cops. Cumulatively we possess nearly a century of experience in the business of police work. Our backgrounds derive from the East Coast, West Coast, South and Upper Midwest. We are the voice of law enforcement, connecting with our readers throughout the entire country and uniting the Blue Family. We have our finger on the pulse of American law enforcement and endlessly support our brothers and sisters who hold the Thin Blue Line.

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