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Old 02-03-2019, 03:17 PM
 
Location: 5,400 feet
2,382 posts, read 2,397,874 times
Reputation: 3161

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This is what FTDNA has to say.

"Dear Customers:

I am writing to address the news that our Gene-by-Gene laboratory, which processes genetic tests for several commercial clients in addition to all of the FamilyTreeDNA tests, has processed a handful of DNA samples for cold cases from the F.B.I. In many cases, the news reports contained false or misleading information.

Let me start with this categorical statement:

LAW ENFORCEMENT DOES NOT HAVE OPEN ACCESS TO THE FTDNA DATABASE.

They cannot search or “dig through” FTDNA profiles any more than an ordinary user can. As with all other genetic genealogy services, law enforcement must provide valid legal process, such as a subpoena or search warrant to receive any information beyond that which any other user can access.

I have been an avid genealogist since I was twelve years old. FamilyTreeDNA is not just a business, it is my passion. I fully understand your privacy concerns on a personal level.

Law enforcement has the ability to test DNA samples from crime scenes and upload the results into databases, like any other customer can, and it appears they have been doing it at other companies for the past year. The distinction is that, according to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, we expect the FBI and law enforcement agencies to let us know when they submit something to our database. We moved to something transparent, rather than having them work in a stealthy way. Other than that, nothing changed that affects the privacy of our customers.

FamilyTreeDNA has always taken your privacy seriously and will continue to do so. We’ve remained steadfast, always, refusing to sell your data to pharmaceutical companies and other third parties.

One of the key reasons law enforcement wanted to submit their samples to us is the same reason many of you have: out of all the major companies, FamilyTreeDNA is the only one that has its own lab, and our customers’ samples never leave our company.

As previously stated, law enforcement can only receive information beyond that which is accessible to the standard user by providing FamilyTreeDNA with valid legal process, such as a subpoena or a search warrant. Again, this is specified in FamilyTreeDNA’s Terms of Service, just as with all other companies.

ABOUT OUR TERMS OF SERVICE

The Terms of Service were changed in May of 2018 to reflect GDPR requirements, and we informed our customers about the update at that time. Those changes included a paragraph that required law enforcement to receive our permission to enter the database and since it was a part of the overall update, notice was sent to every FTDNA customer. Without infringing upon our customers’ privacy, the language in the paragraph referring to law enforcement was updated in December, although nothing changed in the actual handling of such requests. It was an oversight that notice of the revision was not sent to you and that is our mistake. Therefore, we are reverting our TOS to our May 2018 version, and any future changes will be communicated to you in a timely manner.

This is the May 2018, GDPR-compliant version, communicated to you at that time: “You agree to not use the Services for any law enforcement purposes, forensic examinations, criminal investigations, and/or similar purposes without the required legal documentation and written permission from FamilyTreeDNA.”

WE WILL DO A BETTER JOB OF COMMUNICATING WITH YOU.

I am genuinely sorry for not having handled our communications with you as we should have.

We’ve received an incredible amount of support from those of you who believe this is an opportunity for honest, law-abiding citizens to help catch bad guys and bring closure to devastated families. We want you to understand, as many of you already do, that you have the same protections that you’ve always had and that you have nothing to fear.

We’ve also heard from supporters offering ideas and solutions to make the FamilyTreeDNA experience a more comfortable one in light of this new information.

We are listening. Our plan is to create a panel of citizen genealogist advisors who will work with us as we focus on how to make your FamilyTreeDNA experience the best one available.

Sincerely,

Bennett Greenspan
President
FamilyTreeDNA.com"


I have absolutely no problem with their or the submitting law enforcement actions.
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Old 02-03-2019, 03:55 PM
 
Location: Massachusetts
7,327 posts, read 11,078,138 times
Reputation: 5814
I received the same letter. I don't have a problem with this, either.
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Old 02-03-2019, 04:03 PM
 
14,854 posts, read 7,442,884 times
Reputation: 7712
I have a test from FTDNA that hasn't been used yet and it makes me hesitant to use it. But honestly, I feel that all the DNA companies more than likely will do like FTDNA did and will all of the sudden allow the government access to their databases without your consent.

It is something that bothered me and kept me from using DNA to research and it still bothers me. I've been communicating with some like minded persons in groups I'm a member of about seeing if we can write to representatives to have some sort of policies created to protect our DNA data from being shared with the government.

Note, I don't have a problem with finding criminals, but I do have a problem with genealogical "spaces" being used for purposes not related to genealogical research. I also feel that if our DNA is used in regards to connecting with a crime, we should be notified.

Most of the issues I've seen with people who've used FTDNA was that they didn't get notified that the company was doing this with the FBI. I know 23andMe gets a lot of buzz for their uses with the health industry, but less people have issues with them because they are upfront about what they are doing or going to do. I wonder if people will sue FTDNA honestly.

I've mentioned before not sure if it was here, but I do think that most of these companies have been using our DNA in a way that we did not provide access for them to do so. I never believe that the screens that say "do you consent XYZ" and if we hit "no" are observed. I think because I've worked in industries where there are always breaches and things are always done that the contracts/screens say will not be done. I'm just waiting for my class action settlement really.
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:10 PM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
8,451 posts, read 13,151,398 times
Reputation: 10875
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYJoe View Post
So, you don’t consider rapists to be among the ‘worst criminals’?

Guess serial killers are your line in the sand.
My thoughts exactly.

I'll gladly allow law enforcement to use my DNA and pedigree to help identify and bring to justice a rapist. People who aren't comfortable with this can opt out of DNA matching. They can also delete their DNA from the site, but that seems unnecessary given that law enforcement won't have any access if you opt out of matching.
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Old 02-04-2019, 07:53 AM
 
Location: Teach an Fhir Bholg
12,163 posts, read 13,500,874 times
Reputation: 32906
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaseyB View Post
I received the same letter. I don't have a problem with this, either.
Same here.
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Old 02-04-2019, 09:34 AM
 
Location: NY in body, Mayberry in spirit.
2,631 posts, read 1,692,888 times
Reputation: 6157
Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
My thoughts exactly.

I'll gladly allow law enforcement to use my DNA and pedigree to help identify and bring to justice a rapist. People who aren't comfortable with this can opt out of DNA matching. They can also delete their DNA from the site, but that seems unnecessary given that law enforcement won't have any access if you opt out of matching.
This goes to the old question of, ‘ would you turn in a relative if you knew they had committed a violent crime’.

Apparently, some here would not.
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:00 AM
 
14,854 posts, read 7,442,884 times
Reputation: 7712
Quote:
Originally Posted by PA2UK View Post
My thoughts exactly.

I'll gladly allow law enforcement to use my DNA and pedigree to help identify and bring to justice a rapist. People who aren't comfortable with this can opt out of DNA matching. They can also delete their DNA from the site, but that seems unnecessary given that law enforcement won't have any access if you opt out of matching.

Many people in genealogical community have issues with the bold, because as I noted, these "spaces" were originally to find ethnic and genealogical information for genealogical research - not solving crimes. Opting out of matching would make this service not something that would be useful for a lay genealogical researcher.



Opting out of matching means you cannot do any research on your own family.



Policy initiatives IMO are necessary as many people took these tests for a specific purpose that did not include the use of their data in criminal investigations.



Same as when you go have a blood draw for a medical issue, you are having your blood drawn for that issue and not to solve a crime. If we are going to allow genealogical DNA tests done for other purposes to be used in criminal investigations, why not let labs who do medical tests just test everyone since you sign/acknowledge other contracts with labs/medical centers for your biological material. For me it is the same thing.



I know that there are some states working to create policy to oversee this industry. IMO it really should be a federal policy initiative, just like HIPAA defines what our medical tissue/blood/samples and other information can be used for, there should be a similar policy for this sort of service. Private labs have to comply with HIPAA. IMO t here should be a similar initiative to protect consumers in regards to data privacy and security for DNA tests. We should be able to specifically "opt out" of criminal investigations and not be forced to literally opt out of researching our families.
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
3,719 posts, read 4,090,126 times
Reputation: 6805
"We should be able to specifically "opt out" of criminal investigations and not be forced to literally opt out of researching our families."

No. Those who want to participate in criminal investigations should be required to OPT IN.
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Old 02-04-2019, 11:03 AM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
28,123 posts, read 23,200,923 times
Reputation: 120926
Quote:
Originally Posted by aries63 View Post
Another concern I have is how long before law enforcement start using these databases routinely for every DNA sample they have, no matter what the crime. What's to stop them? I think people are fine with them finding the worst criminals (cold cases like the Golden State Killer--DNA from a coffee cup was used to get a match) but what if they start running thousands of rape kits and who knows what other kinds of samples when there is no match in CODIS? That would change the experience of genetic genealogy for me.
They damn well should process rape kits and always should have. For decades they've had their own databases of known criminals and convicts they could have run them against. It's one of the major wrongs of our criminal injustice system that they hadn't bothered.

Only rapists need be concerned.

And btw GSK was caught by DNA on his car door handle matched with relatives in GEDmatch. I'm glad they caught the vicious piece of scum.
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Old 02-04-2019, 11:20 AM
Status: "No. Stinkin'. Wall." (set 11 days ago)
 
Location: Albuquerque NM
3,045 posts, read 4,643,829 times
Reputation: 4429
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYJoe View Post
So, you don’t consider rapists to be among the ‘worst criminals’?

Guess serial killers are your line in the sand.
There are an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits languishing in the country, vs. how many serial murderers? I do think there is a difference, and I can see how law enforcement using these databases will have a chilling effect on customers using these companies to test their DNA for genealogy. This could spell the end of genetic testing for genealogy, as many people who test find that they have a close relative (maybe a 2nd cousin) on the "wanted" list and are expected to cough up names and locations of all their known relatives.

I am kind of sensitive to the rape issue as an adoptee who was told by the state when I was of age to request information that I was the product of rape. For years I believed I was a "rape baby" until I found my birth mother who said she made up the story. I would later learn that it was a frequent excuse to explain an unwanted pregnancy. Murders you can't make up. See the difference?

Last edited by aries63; 02-04-2019 at 11:33 AM..
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