News & Commentary United States

Reports COVID Test Firm Is Planning to Sell Swabs With Customers’ DNA

The company has since denied the claims, saying customers' DNA is only used for COVID-19 testing.
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A leading COVID testing company in the UK is under investigation over its plans to sell swabs containing customers’ DNA.

According to The Telegraph, “Cignpost Diagnostics, a government-approved supplier trading as Express Test, said it will analyse samples to sell the information to third parties, company documents have revealed.”

The company, which is reported to have delivered up to three million tests since June last year, required customers to tick a box agreeing to a near-5,000 word privacy policy, which links to another document outlining its “research programme,” The Sunday Times reported.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed that it is investigating the issue.

“There is no personal data more sensitive than our DNA,” ICO deputy commissioner Steve Wood told The Sunday Times.

“People should be told about what’s happening to it in a clear, open and honest way so they can make informed decisions about whether they want to give it up. We’ll look carefully at the information gathered by The Sunday Times,” he said.

Cignpost has since denied the claims, saying it “is in full compliance with all laws related to data privacy,” and that customers’ DNA is only used for COVID-19 testing.

“All PCR Covid-19 tests are based on DNA analysis. We only use DNA for the purposes of conducting the PCR test in line with Public Health England guidelines. All DNA samples and data are destroyed once the Covid-19 test process is complete and data has been shared with clients and PHE.

“Our terms and conditions do not allow the use of customers DNA samples or data for any purpose other than Covid-19 testing. Any change in use of customer data would require new explicit consent. We apologise to our clients for any concern or confusion caused by today’s media coverage.”


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