How To Protect Your Ancestry DNA Privacy?

By | March 17, 2017

Are you interested in taking the Ancestry DNA test? But you wonder how to protect your Ancestry DNA privacy. Do you want to know more about your family history but concerned about the integrity of your personal information? Well, in this post I will discuss how you can protect your privacy and set your mind at ease in the meantime.

Ancestry DNA Privacy

You are probably thinking about taking the next step in your genealogy research, DNA testing. You have heard about this latest research tool and want to know how it can help you. But something is holding you back.

Do you want to know how to protect you AncestryDNA results and also how to share your data with selected people? Well if you have answered yes to both then please read on. I will answer the most pressing questions you may have concerning the privacy of your data.

Questions answered this post:

Where Is Your DNA Sample Tested and Stored?

Your primary concern is probably who is actually holding my DNA sample and where is it tested? Most of us, if not all of us, are concerned as to who has any information about us. And also what are they doing with this information.

DNA Sample Tested and Stored

As we live in a big brother world these are two of the biggest concerns that we have about our details. And rightly so, we want to know the answers to these questions. We want to know that our data is being used with our best interests in mind and that that data is not being shared without our information.

We are providing with very important information. We are providing them with the genetic code of our human body. So who is holding this information and is it safe?

To set your mind at ease your DNA sample is tested and stored at a secure third-party testing laboratory. This laboratory is located within the United States.

Taking part in the testing of your genetic code results in you agreeing to Ancestry DNA terms, conditions and privacy statement and the information being processed by this third-party.

Who Can See My DNA Results?

After you are wondering who is storing your information you are probably wondering who can see your personal DNA results. You don’t want everyone accessing and seeing something that is so personal to you.

Who Can See My DNA Results?

By purchasing and activating the test online then you become the Administrator of your results., or rather Owner of your results. Ancestry DNA removed the Administrator feature to make it clearer that ONLY YOU can change your account.

You are in control of your own information and you can set who you share this information with. You can do this by clicking the “Share” button that is found on your Ethnicity Results page at the top right corner.

To add people who you want to share your results with you will need to ¬†enter their email addresses. Once you have entered all the email addresses of the people that you want to share your information with then you will click on the “Send Invitations” button. Your recipients will then be able to access your ethnicity results.

What if I want people to also edit my DNA results?

You may also wish for others to edit as well as access your ethnicity results. This is possible by selecting the “Invite others to view DNA results” button within the “Sharing DNA results” on your Settings page. You can either select people in this way to either be a “Guest” or an “Editor“.

Other Ancestry members that you have invited in this way will be able to see your ethnicity estimates and also a list of your possible DNA matches from your results. Whether you choose for someone to be a guest or an editor is your choice. You may though wish to take this option so that you can share what information you have with your recipients

What If I Want To Make Someone Else An Administrator?

By default when you activate the DNA test online you will become the Administrator, or rather Owner. That means that you have full control of your DNA ethnicity results. However, you may wish for someone else to become an administrators instead of yourself. But as I have mentioned above this is no longer possible.

Ancestry DNA Administrator

The reason for this change in the policy was because from concerns by people who shared their administrator rights. Or even handed over control to others.

Who knows what anyone other than you would do with the information that you have trusted on someone else. Sure they will be a relative but you never know.

And Ancestry DNA have taken this very seriously as now you cannot allow anyone else to gain access to your account and your details. It does though prove a problem for anyone who is not tech savvy who would like to take the test.

How Much Access Does an Administrator, Editor or Guest Have?

Since the Administrator feature is now obsolete you should disregard this section of this post. I have though kept it here in case you were wondering what was available pre-summer 2017.

The following chart shows the different levels of access:

Ancestry DNA Administrator Control

What Privacy Settings Can I Manage?

Within your status page you can manage a number of privacy settings. You can alter and make any changes by selecting the Settings link. Provided your an administrator of your DNA ethnicity results then you will have full control over them.

Privacy Settings

The settings that you can change include:

  • Display your name/username – You can select whether you want to show people your actual name that you signed up with Ancestry. Or however you may decide that you want a username to be displayed so that you may have some anonymity.
  • Email notifications for DNA matches – You can choose whether you want to be notified by email if there are any DNA matches connected with your results. If you do want notifications then you can select whether you would want them weekly or monthly.
  • Ethnicity results settings – You can actually decide how much of your results that you want to share with others.
  • Link your family tree – When AncestryDNA compares your DNA with other members they can also check to see any comparisons with your family tree that you have created online and the member’s as well. This is only possible if you have linked your family tree with your DNA results. So for a higher chance of making connections with distant cousins this option should be selected.
  • Sharing your DNA results – This option I have already covered in the previous question. But suffice it to say with this selection you are able to select whether someone can view or edit your data, or ultimately take control of your information and become an administrator.
  • Manage sharing of your ethnicity results – If you decide to do so then choose to remove a link to your ethnicity estimates that you may have shared.
  • Delete your DNA test and results -If at any point you want to delete your DNA test and result then you are completely able to do so. If you do decide to do so then you will have to enter your password to confirm this decision. If you have allowed other people to view your results then they still may be able to see this data. Also, AncestryDNA may retain your data even after you have deleted your test and results. This is to help prevent identity theft and any misconduct performed by members of AncestryDNA.

Final Thoughts

Having full control over your information is always peace of mind for you. You want to know who can access and edit any of your private details. It is also assuring that your information is tested and stored at a secure third-party laboratory.

AncestryDNA does offer you various different levels of control. And if for some reason you are not entirely happy with the testing and/or results then you can delete it all if you wish. In that respect I do like that Ancestry does offer you that choice.

Even though results may not be perfect, (what is in life?), Ancestry DNA can at least point you in the right direction. Making connections with distant cousins is also not only impressive but can help you to further your genealogy research.

I therefore think that DNA testing is here to stay and can only get better as scientists learn more about our DNA and can become more and more accurate over time.

Other Ancestry DNA posts that can help you:


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post discussing how to protect your Ancestry DNA privacy. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Author: Owain

Hello, Owain here. After researching my family history for a number of years I wanted to give back to the genealogy world. So here you will find guides, tips and product reviews that will help you on your genealogy journey.

12 thoughts on “How To Protect Your Ancestry DNA Privacy?

  1. Celtiyote Helper

    I’ve gotten the Ancestry test and your information about how they keep the DNA info safe is reassuring. It really is great how Ancestry gives users so much access to and control over their information, and it’s a great place to collect all kinds of genealogy info.

    It’s so interesting to see the ethnicity results, too! Thanks for the great info on dna privacy at Ancestry.

    1. Owain Post author

      I am glad that I could reassure you about the privacy of your data. I am glad that Ancestry does give so much control, even deleting your results if you wish.

      Finding out your ethnicity can help you see where you need to look next with your research. So if you’re scratching you’re head because you have lost your way or that you have hit a brick wall then why not give Ancestry DNA testing a go.

  2. jamin wong

    What are the consequences when someone’s DNA is stolen? Besides, use for criminal and post-mortem report to trace the next-of-kin? what else?

    1. Owain Post author

      Well as yet I have not seen any reports that anyone’s DNA has been stolen. Ancestry would not want to jeopardize their reputation as the number one genealogy website.

  3. alham

    It was interesting how you explained about the privacy of your data. I hadn’t thought about it before, although I should’ve.

    I would probably take the test anyway as I want to know as much of my family history as I can.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful article really enjoyed reading it.

    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Alham, I am glad that I was able to inform you as to the privacy of your DNA data. It is important as it is what makes us who we are, isn’t it?

      If anyone is serious about their family history then why not take the next step? Who knows what you will find out and distant cousins you will find as well.

  4. Ronnie Jordan

    Call me old fashioned. I don’t think I would be interested in this too much because I am a private type person. It feels like I would be exposing a little too much information of myself. It is nice and all to know your family blood line but I don’t care for it to be at anyone’s access. I know you say you can do things to protect the information but just how secure is it?

    1. Owain Post author

      Each to their own when it comes to doing the DNA test. I hear what you’re saying and many people probably feel the same way. But there are a considerable amount of people who have taken the test and plenty more who are interested.

      As for how secure is it then I couldn’t give you a scale as such. What I can say is that as Ancestry is the number genealogy search website on the planet then I would highly expect them to take security seriously.

  5. Furkan

    Results of Ancestry DNA test actually matters and I don’t anyone to know about get my personal information.
    I think linking my family tree can be really beneficial. We can even exchange information with members who have similarities. Is it allowed there and can we ask for some other member’s contact information?

    1. Owain Post author

      Linking your family tree can really help you further with this type of research. At the end of the day if you are passionate about tracing your family history then you will want to take this next step.

      Ancestry DNA will show you the members who may possibly share a connection with you. So you just message them and find out if they’re family.

  6. Craig | UK TV Services Abroad

    Hi Owain,
    Thanks for highlighting ways to protect our DNA results online. Is the DNA site HTTP Secure with the HTTPS protocol? It’s a concern of mine worrying that my DNA could be used for means outwith my control, if you know what I mean. I also don’t like how AncestryDNA are entitled to keep my DNA results even if I delete them. Is there any way round this?

    1. Owain Post author

      Yes they do use https Craig. I can understand your level of concern. I think anyone who wants to do a DNA test wants their information to be secured.

      As for a way around AncestryDNA keeping your information I’m afraid not. However, I will be reviewing other DNA companies shortly so will let you know what I find out in that regards.


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