One niggling worry I had when I decided to get some genetic testing from 23andMe was what would happen to my DNA if the company failed. By all accounts, 23andMe is a very healthy company* so it was more of a theoretical worry for me. Not so for deCODEme folks…
Like 23andMe, deCODEme looks at hundreds of thousands of different areas of a customer’s DNA in order to predict that customer’s future health and provide information about his or her ancestry and traits. This week deCODEme’s parent company, DeCode Genetics, filed for bankruptcy. Press reports indicate that parts of the company will go up for auction. I am not sure if that includes deCODEme but I am sure all of their customers are sweating it out right now.
The big question now isn’t whether these people will still get good service from deCODEme. Instead it is what the company that buys deCODEme will do with all those customers’ DNA. Will they maintain deCODEme’s previous privacy policies? Or, in the worst case scenario, will they connect DNA to name and sell the combination to the highest bidder?
I have to say that at first I was a little panicky when I started thinking about this. Especially when I started to contemplate what my health insurance company would do to me if they got a hold of my DNA.