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Pentagon warns military personnel that take-home DNA tests could pose security risks

By Daniel Uria

Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Senior Pentagon officials warned military personnel about taking at-home DNA tests, citing potential privacy risks.

In an internal memo dated Dec. 20, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Joseph Kernan and acting Under Secretary for Defense for Personnel and Readiness James Stewart said DNA testing companies were seeking to attract military members as customers by offering discounts and other incentives.

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The memo noted that the tests "could expose personal and genetic information and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission."

"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 said.

Officials also warned that the tests might be sold without independent confirmation of their claims.

"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," they said.

DNA testing company 23 and Me told NBC News it makes the "utmost efforts" to protect consumer privacy and ensure accurate results, while competitor Ancestry.com said it doesn't share data with insurance companies or employers.

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