Is Your Identity for Sale?

Is Your Identity for Sale?

Have you ever wondered who controlled your genetic profile data and had access to your identity? It’s big business and a commodity that has recently been up for sale.

In August 2020, private equity funds managed by Blackstone reached a definitive agreement to acquire Ancestry® from Silver Lake, GIC, Spectrum Equity, Permira, and other equity holders for a total enterprise value of $4.7 billion.

Most people are aware that Ancestry is the global leader in digital family history services, operating in more than 30 countries with more than 3 million paying subscribers across its Ancestry online properties and more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

The company harnesses the information found in family trees and historical records to help people gain a new level of understanding about their lives. Ancestry also operates a market-leading consumer genomics business, which informs consumers about their heritage and key health characteristics.
Blackstone, purchased them not for their traditional Line of Business but for the trove of DNA data as well as personally linked data allowing them to sell incredibly complete profiles of people to insurers for risk calculations, etc.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
The government classifies DNA data not collected by a physician as “generic data”. Most of these companies do not have a classification for “generic data” in their privacy policy. You can view this in several ways:

  • Either it grants you control over your data and deletion of the same because of the lack of clarity related to how this data is handled.
  • You could also encounter these companies stating that there are no rights indicated in the privacy policy allowing the user to have their data deleted.

With the purchase of Ancestry by Blackstone, they will have to change their privacy policy. Once that happens, you will have a small window of time to request all data removal due to the changes in the policy and your unwillingness to accept the new changes.

Another emerging threat to your privacy at the moment is if you share a photo of yourself anywhere online. It has now been discovered all these pictures, regardless from what source, are for sale and purchased by face recognition outfits. The reason TikTok is so controversial, besides who really owns it, is they are doing the same thing with facial recognition software, political bias calculation and identification and other means to uniquely identify you from another.
TikTok started as a short-form video app that reached more than 2 billion downloads in April 2020 and has become the number one social network for Gen Z. However, the app’s biggest problem at the moment outside of users’ privacy issues is its direct ties to China.

In our next T4A Blog, we will look specifically at this short-form video app and the data privacy problems it represents to explain to you why you should be wary of what you post on it.
Stay tuned!