Pentagon officials warn military members to avoid direct-to-consumer DNA tests

This illustration picture shows a saliva collection kit for DNA testing displayed in Washington DC on December 19, 2018.

Credit: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

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This illustration picture shows a saliva collection kit for DNA testing displayed in Washington DC on December 19, 2018.

Credit: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Credit: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Pentagon officials are warning military members to avoid using direct-to-consumer genetic tests due to concerns over potential security risks, according to multiple reports.

In a memo distributed Friday and obtained by Yahoo! News, Under Secretary for Intelligence Joseph Kernan and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs James Steward warned military personnel not to use tests like those offered by 23 and Me and Ancestry.com.

"These (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," the memo said.

Officials noted that companies have been targeting military members through discounts and other incentives.

“Exposing sensitive genetic information to outside parties poses personal and operational risk to Service members,” officials said. “(Direct-to-consumer) genetic 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, meaning they may be sold without independent analysis to verify the claims of the seller.”

The tests are especially concerning for Department of Defense personnel due to requirements to disclose medical information affecting a person's ability to serve and deploy, WUSA reported.

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

Officials with DNA testing company 23 and Me told NBC News they take the "utmost efforts" to protect their customers' privacy and that they don't share information with third parties unless they're authorized to do so. They said their tests have been authorized by government regulators, NBC News reported.

Officials with Ancestry.com told Fox Business do not share customer DNA information with insurers, employers or marketers and that they only share information with law enforcement officials when mandated by a court order or warrant.

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