Queens Lawmakers On The Move Nov. 27, 2017

Queens County City Council News

Schumer Sounds Alarm On At Home DNA Kits

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) yesterday sounded the alarm on at home DNA test kits, saying that the kits are putting consumer privacy at great risk because DNA testing firms don’t always clearly disclose to consumers exactly what they are doing with DNA once it is sent in to their company.

Schumer is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate and ensure that privacy policies on all DNA test kits are clear, transparent, and fair to consumers as these services become more and more popular.

“When it comes to protecting consumers from at-home DNA test kit service, the federal government is behind; putting your most personal genetic information in the hands of third parties for their exclusive use raises a lot of concerns, from the potential for discrimination by employers all the way to health insurance,” said Schumer. “That’s why I am asking the Federal Trade Commission to take a serious look at this relatively new kind of service and ensure that these companies have clear, fair privacy policies and standards for all kinds of at-home DNA test kits. We don’t want to impede research but we also don’t want to empower those looking to make a fast buck or an unfair judgement off your genetic information. We can find the right balance here, and we must.”

Many consumers purchase DNA test kits, from companies like MyHeritage, Ancestry and others to learn more about their genetics and ancestry, however, many don’t realize that their sensitive information may end up in the hands of many other third party companies. And in many cases, the varying Terms of Service of each and every company mean consumers cannot know what to expect or understand the consent they are giving for use of their data.

For example, AncestryDNA’s fine print tells consumers that by submitting their DNA to the firm “…you grant Ancestry and the Ancestry Group Companies a royalty-free, worldwide, sublicensable, transferable license to host, transfer, process, analyze, distribute and communicate your genetic information for the purposes of providing products and services.”

At-home DNA test kits require a cheek swab or the collection of spit, which is then sent away for genetic-testing. Schumer points out that each company has its own variation of a privacy policy and Terms of Service and that many companies may be selling the genetic data they’ve gathered to third parties.

Avella Demands Answers From DEC On Whitestone Development

Sen. Tony Avella

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Floral Park, Beechhurst, Malba, Auburndale) today will stand with civic leaders and local community board members to demand answers as to why the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) allowed developers to use an inappropriate fill at the Whitestone Waterpointe development, a future housing site.

Previously an industrial zone, the 18-acre site at 151-45 Sixth Rd. known as Waterpointe has been deemed a brownfield site, meaning toxins still exist in the soil and the DEC is supervising the clean up of them.

The sight is slated for the development of 52 single-family homes for both current and future owners.

Avella will meet with the community leaders at 1 p.m. today, Nov. 27 at 151-45 6th Road, Whitestone.

Crowley Decries Trump Plans To Dismantle Net Neutrality Regs

U.S. Representative Joe Crowley/via Facebook

U. S. Rep. & House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside, Bronx)(D-NY) last week decried Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai and the Trump administration for their plan plans to dismantle net neutrality regulations.

According to Wikipedia, Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.

“We must continue the fight for Americans’ access to a free and open internet. The decision by the FCC to dismantle existing net neutrality regulations will hurt consumers who rely on the internet to reach the world and realize new opportunities. It is consumers who should be in control of the content they see online,” said Crowley.

“Congress must act to ensure access to the internet is guaranteed for all Americans. I urge Republicans and Democrats to work together to fix another problem created unnecessary by the Trump administration,” the lawmaker added.

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