Sunday, September 13, 2015

AncestryHealth and AncestryDNA

A recent Genealogy In Time article about Ancestry’s future growth strategy caught our attention. What was most disturbing is that Ancestry has sold its DNA sequences to Calico, a Google affiliated company. Here is the 2013 announcement about Calico.

“MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – September 18, 2013 – Google today announced Calico, a new company that will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases. Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple, will be Chief Executive Officer and a founding investor.

Announcing this new investment, Larry Page, Google CEO said: “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives. It’s impossible to imagine anyone better than Art—one of the leading scientists, entrepreneurs and CEOs of our generation—to take this new venture forward.” Art said: “I’ve devoted much of my life to science and technology, with the goal of improving human health. Larry’s focus on outsized improvements has inspired me, and I’m tremendously excited about what’s next.”

We don’t doubt the philosophy behind this company – quality of life – is an important one. What concerns us is the privacy issue. Not only will over a million people who have had their DNA tested through Ancestry have their sequence available to another company, that information is accompanied by extensive family trees. And who else might gain access to this information?

We think it would have been a much better idea if Ancestry had first gotten permission from those who had had their DNA tested through that site. But then, it is about money.

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