Anonymous 23andMe DNA Test
Do you want to trace your roots and health through a DNA test, but worried about giving such personal and identifiable information to a private business? I did it and tried to anonymize it as much as possible. Here are my steps.
So what did I do to anonymize my DNA testing? You can’t truly anonymize your DNA….your DNA is your DNA and it’s permanent. You can’t change it (yet) or make it look like something else. However, you can make it very difficult for someone to tie it to your public identity. That’s what I tried to accomplish while following these when I had 23andMe analyze my DNA.
- First, I made sure to sign up for a VPN service that lets you spoof your location (IP address). There are many VPN services available and I don’t want to mention which one I used. Should be easy to find through a web search, or you can pick one from PCMag’s list. I normally use ProtonVPN, so I made sure to pick another one for this project.
- Then I used cold cash to purchase a VISA pre-paid card from a large grocery store in a neighboring town.
- Ok, so next step is where online activity starts. Whenever online, I made sure to use VPN to spoof my location. With spoofing location, I mean connecting to a server that is not in my home town or State….and I picked one with a large population. During the following steps, I was always connected to a VPN server in a different State.
- I created a new user account on my computer and downloaded a browser I’ve never used before. In my case, it was Vivaldi. Nothing particular about that browser, it was just one I could think of that I’ve never used before, or since. So there were no existing cookies, trackers, or fingerprints.
- I signed up for a burner email address at Tutanota, using completely fabricated information.
- I used my pre-paid VISA card to purchase a 23andMe DNA kit from eBay. I didn’t login to my eBay account. I purchased it as a guest. When completing the purchase, I entered a fictitious name and my employer’s address. I had daily access to my employers’ mailroom to check on the mail, so that was not a problem.
- When I received my kit, I created an account with 23andMe, using a fake name and address, a different date of birth, and my burner email address. I didn’t change my ethnicity because I didn’t want to mess with their DNA data.
- I opted not to share the results.
- I spit in the tube and sent it to 23andMe.
- It took a couple of weeks before I received the the email notification that the analysis was completed.
- Once I had downloaded the reports, as well as making a backup of my raw DNA data, I deleted my 23andMe account. I also deleted my burner email account with Tutanota.
- I’m storing my 23andMe files offline, away from any cloud service.
There you have it! Remember to always use VPN as well as accounts and browsers you’ve never used before, and never will for anything else.
If you think there are better ways or if I failed at some point, let me know in the comments below. Thank you! Good luck!