Chris Lange, FISM News
A member of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee is urging Americans not to provide DNA samples to private companies, including those offering popular ancestry tracing services. Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said that the private information could be used by foreign adversaries to develop bioweapons targeting specific groups or individuals, according to a Fox News report.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Friday, Crow, a former Army Ranger, pointed out that many Americans are far too willing to provide DNA samples to private companies who could easily sell the information to third parties, including foreign entities.
“You can’t have a discussion about this without talking about privacy and the protection of commercial data because expectations of privacy have degraded over the last 20 years,” Crow said, noting that younger Americans are increasingly willing to forego privacy expectations.
“People will very rapidly spit into a cup and send it to 23andMe and get really interesting data about their background,” he added.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who also spoke at the forum, said the same technology could be used to bring about famine in the U.S. by targeting American livestock and crops.
Crow and Ernst both also sounded the alarm that U.S. adversaries are actively researching ways to pair inexpensive, military-capable drones with artificial intelligence (AI) technology to create “swarms” of hundreds of drones that could be swiftly dispatched to the battlefield.
“It’s not just the one-offs that are being purchased on the internet, but now we have near-peer adversaries that are developing swarm technology where they can use 100 or 200 different drones — highly, highly evolved drones that can attack our service members on the battlefield,” Ernst said.
The U.S. is researching similar drone technology, which Crow said must factor in ethical and moral considerations, though he acknowledged that foreign adversaries don’t necessarily share such moral compunctions.
23andMe has denied selling any private data it collects.