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Why You Can't See 23andMe's Transparency Report Outside the US

Why can't 23andMe's international customers see if their governments are asking for their data?
Image: Flickr/Pelle Sten

UPDATE: Hours after this article was published, 23andMe released their transparency report, viewable to people browsing from outside the US. It is currently on the company's Customer Care page, and you can view it here.

Privacy advocates' worst fears about consumer gene sequencing came true on Wednesday when 23andMe, a genetic testing company, released its first transparency report. According to the company, US law enforcement has requested data about 23andMe's clients four times, though none of the requests were fulfilled.


Not everyone can view the unsettling report, however. Anyone outside the US clicking on the direct link to the report is instead redirected to 23andMe's privacy statement, unless they change their browsing location to the US with a small button at the bottom of the company's site.

For users outside of the US, then, 23andMe's transparency report might appear inaccessible or non-existent unless they already know where to look.

In an email, company spokesperson Evonne Morantes wrote that the report's limited released was part of a technical update to 23andMe's US site for a new service the company offers.

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"The technical roll out of our new experience is happening in waves in order to ensure a smooth transition for all of our users," Morantes wrote. "While we began in the US where the majority of our customers are, our international sites will be updated as soon as practical."

The report, which includes requests filed since 2007, includes data for all countries in which 23andMe operates, including Canada and the UK. However, the US was the only country to ask the company for data.

The report will be added to the "Customer Care" section of the site for non-US users once the technical rollout is complete, Morantes said. But until then, for users outside the US, the company's highly anticipated transparency report will remain rather opaque.