Tens of millions of people have used at-home DNA kits like 23 and Me, or Ancestry.com. The results are interesting and fun. But are they accurate, is your DNA and data for sale, and do they pose a risk to national security?

On December 20, 2019, the Pentagon told all members of the U.S. Armed Forces not to use at-home DNA testing products. The clear message was that the DNA and data are not secure, and in the hands of the enemy, your own DNA could make you a target. These types of warnings rarely come without some basis in intel. 

The Department of Defense said the genetic materials and data can be misused for a variety of nefarious purposes. Among those listed were mass surveillance, the ability to track individuals without their knowledge or permission, DNA exploitation to jeopardize security, and increased risk to the joint force and mission of the U.S. military. 

Department of Defense personnel are frequently targeted by at-home DNA companies, enticed with military discounts. 

One possible threat to military readiness could be each servicemember's obligation is to report any health condition (including genetic predispositions) that could affect their ability to serve. Such information could end their military career. A DNA test revealing such information that the servicememeber does not report could lead to influence or threats.

The Defense Department noted that at-home DNA testing kits are largely unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and their privacy policies vary. While they may assure customers that the information will not be shared with employers or insurance companies, the data and materials could nonetheless be vulnerable to outside hack, or intentionally sold in "100 different ways," according to the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest."