Government, Big Tech Obtained 23andMe Customers Information Following Hack

In December 2023, the genetic testing company 23andMe was hacked, affecting nearly 7 million customers, whose sensitive information, including ancestry reports, zip codes and birth years, was accessed. Such a crash reportedly exposed Americans’ genetic information to Big Tech companies and authorities.

The hackers were able to publicly release the information of 14,000 individuals.
Despite such a large-scale data breach, 23andMe did not respond to questions surrounding the hackers involved.

“23andMe has completed its investigation, assisted by third-party forensics experts. We are in the process of notifying affected customers, as required by law,” the company said in a statement posted on its website in December 2023.

“We have taken steps to further protect customer data, including requiring all existing customers to reset their password and requiring two-step verification for all new and existing customers,” the statement continued.

Blaze News pointed out that the consequences resulting from the data breach include the federal government’s possession of Americans’ genetic code because of the Patriot Act, which was passed in 2001 to enhance the U.S.’s abilities to detect and prevent terrorism.

The outlet noted that 23andMe doesn’t just track a customer’s ethnicity. Individuals are required to spit into a container and the company eventually releases information about their carrier status, personal traits and a health action plan.

23andMe also tests for physical illnesses an individual may carry, such as Parkinson’s and celiac disease.

Lawsuits are now increasing and the company is facing economic troubles, according to Blaze News, which reported that 23andMe was once worth $6 billion but has crashed 98% following the data breach.

“In its 16 years of existence, 23andMe has never made a profit. This didn’t stop CEO Anne Wojcicki from doubling the staff in 2019 and paying herself $33 million two years later,” Blaze News wrote.

Blaze News reported that, given Patriot Act gag orders, it is highly likely that the hacked information of 23andMe customers was obtained by the federal government.

“Thanks to weak privacy laws and Patriot Act gag orders, it’s anyone’s guess how much genetic code is already sitting in a federal database. Back in 2019, smaller competitor

FamilyTreeDNA admitted that it shared information with the feds,” the outlet wrote.