What Are Your Options now that Your DNA Data is Floating Around Out There?
Many articles, blogs, commentaries and news stories have been written recently regarding the deal between 23andMe and GlaxoSmithKline who’s announcement to to share genetic data in pursuit of developing new drugs has received backlash. While I’m sure the intention of issuing the press release was one that was born out of pride in what the two organizations can achieve together, what it did instead was shine a light on the true business model behind 23andMe.
When an individual decides to engage in DNA testing with 23andMe, you make a choice: for an ancestry kit, you will pay an estimated $69. If you want to have your DNA studied for ancestry as well as health you will pay an estimated $139. Through that process you make the assumption (wrongly) that this is their business model. Charge me for a kit and provide me with a service. But as we’ve discovered, that is not the case. Their actual business model is based upon selling their ever-growing data pool of DNA results to whoever wants to purchase it.
Of course every person who purchased a kit had to sign a terms of agreement that outlined the terms under which you released your very private, personal DNA. The fact is those terms are buried in complex language in a lengthy document that probably next to no one reads. Specific sensitive terms are not called out and easily brought to our attention, instead they are intentionally obscured.
From every corner of industry, there are stories that emerge on a daily basis of data generated from either our DNA, our browsing habits, purchasing habits or posting habits which are farmed so that tremendous revenues can be generated. This is the business model of today’s behemoth technology giants such as Google and Facebook. It should be quickly understood that when you get something that’s giving you tremendous value for free (a la Facebook) the question should always be asked, “how does X company make money?” The minute you need to ask that question you must realize that YOU are the product that is being monetized.
That’s where 23andMe is tricky – you didn’t immediately jump to that question because in fact they DO charge you for testing. So in effect, you are paying them to steal the single most revealing dataset that reveals all that is YOU… your DNA data. To me, that’s incredibly shady.
So what can be done? there are a few good articles out there right now that tell you how you can delete your data from 23andMe and other DNA or ancestry sites. Or you could do nothing. But if you care about protecting the very essence of who you are and what makes up you so that others can never use it against you (think insurance, government, police, etc.) you now have a new option that has until now not existed: TimiHealth. Timicoin/TimiHealth has a blockchain based solution that allows you to easily fetch your results from these DNA or Ancestry sites and load it into TimiPatient, our consumer based application. Once you’ve done that you can go and follow the steps to delete your DNA results from the 23andMe site.
Now that you have your DNA results, what can you do with it? At TimiHealth what makes us different is we will bring the marketplace to you. If research or pharmaceutical companies wish to purchase your data, TimiHealth presents you with the request, you make the decision. If you decide yes, then YOU make the money. We present the offers, you make the choice, depending on that choice, you make the money. Now that’s what I call turning the tables!