Posts tagged with "Pentagon"

Pentagon memo warns that DNA kits pose ‘personal and operational risks’

December 31, 2019

The Pentagon is advising members of the military not to use consumer DNA kits—saying the information collected by private companies could pose a security risk, according to a memo co-signed by the Defense Department’s top intelligence official, Yahoo News has exclusively reported.

A growing number of companies—among them,  23andMe, Ancestry, and MyHeritagesell testing kits that provide consumers with a DNA profile, if they send in a cheek swab or saliva sample. They claim that their DNA profile offer insights into the buyer’s ancestry and possible medical risks—and even can even identify previously unknown family members.

The boom in popularity of such kits has raised ethical and legal issues, since some companies have shared this data with law enforcement, or sold it to third parties. Yahoo notes. But the latest to express its concerns publicly is the Defense Department.

“Exposing sensitive genetic information to outside parties poses personal and operational risks to Service members,” says the December 20 memo signed by Joseph D. Kernan, the undersecretary of defense for Intelligence, and James N. Stewart, the assistant secretary of defense for Manpower.

The memo — which says that some DNA kit companies have been targeting military personnel with discounts — appears to have been distributed widely within the Defense Department. The memo was obtained by Yahoo News.

These [direct-to-consumer] genetic tests are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission,” states the memo.

The memo provides few details on how genetic profiles could endanger security, other than noting that potential “inaccuracies” in health information could pose a risk to military personnel, who are required to report medical issues. Most of the health reports provided by DNA companies typically pertain to medical risks, such as a predisposition to cancer, rather than diagnosing a condition.

Research contact: @YahooNews

White House bans most transgender troops despite widespread censure

March 29, 2018

On March 23, the White House and the Pentagon announced a policy to ban certain transgender people from serving in the U.S. military—a move denounced by 58% of Americans, including 40% of active-duty military personnel and 41% who have served in the past, based on findings of a Harris Poll.

The ban followed a July 26 tweet by President Trump that would have excluded all transgender Americans from serving “In any capacity in the U.S. military”—and was rejected at the time by the Pentagon because the Department of Defense wanted more details and would not react to a Twitter message.

According to a memorandum from the office of President Donald Trump, the restrictive policy states that “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are [being] disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”

The move also has been met with disdain and disapproval from LGBT advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers.

In a report by USA Today on March 23, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called Trump a “coward.”

“This latest memorandum is the same cowardly, disgusting ban the president announced last summer,” Pelosi said. “No one with the strength and bravery to serve in the U.S. military should be turned away because of who they are. The president’s hateful ban is purpose-built to humiliate our brave transgender members of the military who serve with honor and dignity.”

In voicing their disagreement last summer, most Americans (59%) said that they believed President Trump announced the ban “mostly to distract from other policies and issues currently being discussed.”

Only 35% of Americans support the ban. The Department of Justice said the decision was made “after comprehensive study and analysis.”

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