23andMe cuts off API access to outside developers

Anne Wojcicki, chief executive officer and co-founder of 23andMe Inc., speaks during the WSJDLive Global Technology Conference in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Anne Wojcicki, chief executive officer and co-founder of 23andMe Inc., speaks during the WSJDLive Global Technology Conference in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016.

23andMe, which provides DNA testing kits for consumers, is telling outside app developers that they’ll no longer have access to the company’s raw genomic data.

Developers of health apps, weight loss services and quantified self tests have been able to use 23andMe’s anonymized data sets since 2012, when the company announced the opening of its application programming interface (API). The idea was to “allow authorized developers to build a broad range of new applications and tools for the 23andMe community,” the company said at the time.

But on Thursday, 23andMe sent an email to developers, informing them that the API was being disabled in two weeks and that apps will only be able to use reports generated by the company and not the hard data.

“We’re updating our API program to focus on apps that build on the interpretations and results we provide to our customers,” 23andMe said in the email, which was viewed by CNBC.

23andMe is one of the largest makers of at-home DNA tests, which start at $199. More than five million people have sent in a spit sample in exchange for information about their ancestry, as well as some personalized health reports, like whether they’re at greater risk of developing breast cancer.

The company works with pharmaceutical developers aiming to use genetic information to identify new drugs, and with academic researchers on genetics studies.

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