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FTDNA allows Law Enforcement to submit kits in change to TOS

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Jim Barrett View Post

    I think you are over reacting. Too many people believe the trash reported by the "made up news" media!
    Which part of the media news was made up?

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    • #17
      Originally posted by JMAisHere View Post

      Which part of the media news was made up?
      Not made up, but the wording used implies FTDNA is doing some they are not.
      Gave access to Genetic Data can be misconstrued.
      They do not have access to your Raw Data or profile other then what is shown to average user
      Can not see billing info, address, ect (need court order for anything beyond what the average user sees)
      Law Enforcement does not have access to any thing other then their profiles match lists, same as any other user.

      FTDNA required Law Enforcement to seek permission to use database (upload DNA profiles), original TOS
      FTDNA has now given permission to Law Enforcement to upload/test identified Law Enforcement samples .

      Should they have notified users that Law Enforcement was granted permission, even though original TOS stated that Law Enforcement needed permission before using Database, when it was never implied that they could not,
      Probably they should have done a better job of informing.

      I get that people are upset, but many are upset for the wrong reasons and assume FamilytreeDNA is giving away your Genetic Data to outside source, which is false.
      All they are doing is allowing Law Enforcement to use the Database as you and I do, except they are using matches to build out trees to find possible suspects,
      They Do not have access to anything else but matchlists and ethnicty report of their sample.
      Last edited by prairielad; 5th February 2019, 01:38 PM.

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      • #18
        It seems that FBI/other law enforcement have been uploading files to FTDNA and other companies stealthily, according to Mr. Greenspan's email (without providing required documentation and getting permission from the companies), and FTDNA decided they couldn't stop it. So, they tried to deal with it in what they thought was an acceptable way, but they did not handle things well. Customers feel that FTDNA had not informed them in a timely fashion, had not given them a way to opt in or out of such sharing, and are not honoring the Terms of Service (which still seems to be so, even now that they have reverted to the May 24, 2018 wording). Some customers want the service to be set up in such a way so that they have the option to opt in to sharing with kits managed by FBI and other law enforcement.

        Does anyone with programming experience know if such an option could be set up? If so, FTDNA should strive to add that capability.

        It would seem that one solution would be to have a separate database, where law enforcement uploaded kits for their unsolved crimes/victims, and anyone with results from the genetic genealogy DNA testing companies could upload their data files. So many people have expressed the opinion that helping law enforcement by matching to criminal/victim kits would be fine with them, that there would be plenty of folks who would upload to such a database. That would, in theory, allow FTDNA and the other companies to revert to only having kits of people interested in genealogy matching. But, seeing as how law enforcement abused the terms of service before and continue to do so, there is no way to guarantee that, even with having a separate database for criminal cases, they would not continue to submit data and obtain accounts stealthily again at all the companies to possibly match those who did not upload to the dedicated database. I'm not sure, outside of legal action, what can be done to stop unauthorized kits from entering the database.

        Judy G. Russell, who posts a blog as "The Legal Genealogist," has written four posts from Feb. 1 to 3 about the legal aspects of this issue with FTDNA, which are well worth reading. It is not simply that "all they are doing is allowing Law Enforcement to use the database as you and I do." Technically, yes, but law enforcement is NOT the same as a typical customer interested in genealogy, as they have different motives, are representatives of the government, and have certainly been known to make mistakes using DNA results.
        Last edited by KATM; 5th February 2019, 03:17 PM.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by KATM View Post
          Judy G. Russell, who posts a blog as "The Legal Genealogist," has written four posts from Feb. 1 to 3 about the legal aspects of this issue with FTDNA, which are well worth reading. It is not simply that "all they are doing is allowing Law Enforcement to use the database as you and I do." Technically, yes, but law enforcement is NOT the same as a typical customer interested in genealogy, as they have different motives, are representatives of the government, and have certainly been known to make mistakes using DNA results.
          Usually when it comes to investigators who don't understand what they're seeing, and where they had full unrestricted access to the DNA data in the first place. With FTDNA as a go-between, they'd have to at least sell FTDNA(and a court) on whatever madcap theory they're trying to peddle.

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          • #20
            I manage lots of kits - technically now, I should go back to each of those people and ask if they mind about this change. They probably won't, but that's not the point.
            We're all in Europe, so a foreign power's law enforcement authority can access our DNA, without our express consent.

            This isn't made up news.
            Read the Future of Privacy Forum's statement on FTDNA's behaviour.

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            • #21
              I don't see how FTDNA could make law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, comply with their policy of requesting permission in the first place.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by MoberlyDrake View Post
                I don't see how FTDNA could make law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, comply with their policy of requesting permission in the first place.
                They can't, but it gives them and testers, more of a legal standing if it was found out they were using the database without permission since it is explicitly stated in TOS

                "“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.”"

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by prairielad View Post
                  They can't, but it gives them and testers, more of a legal standing if it was found out they were using the database without permission since it is explicitly stated in TOS

                  "“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.”"
                  And if you're the Golden State Killer, and your defense team finds they found the evidence chain pointing back to you came from a TOS violation, it would likely net you exactly nothing in a criminal trial. It might get you a couple dollars in a civil suit, but I'd be skeptical. Oh, I guess it could also give you grounds to appeal after being convicted, but again, I doubt it would get you anywhere as the scope of the TOS violation would likely be ruled within the scope of "reasonable search" since a relative(or even yourself) made their/your DNA data available for matching. But then, as it is a matter of "unsettled law" at this time, anybody's guess is as good as another.

                  Besides which, there's already legal precedence with regards to your right to privacy when it comes to your "private information" being held by a third party. You don't have much of one.

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                  • #24
                    The FBI has their own DNA database and lab so questionable what real information they will glean from FTDNA (are samples from cheek swabs??? Not likely unless DOA or already in custody) and as they work by stealth who knows if Big Brother is researching crime and geneaology too. I know it is easy to be pessimistic.

                    What is important is Family Tree DNA lied. They specifically had a ToC clause about government agencies. Besides this, I have my own worries about its security and use in research. Their customer service has been transparent and bent over backwards to address the issue but it still remains.

                    DNA is the most private information you could think of and it is valuable stuff now and the future.

                    It also appears FTDNA DOES outsource its lab processing...(Gene-2-gene) so what about that?

                    My own feeling is FTA needs to investigate as well as European and other data protection authorities. Unless companies take the customer seriously then they try to get away with it.

                    I am seriously considering just deleting my account and avoiding the minefield.

                    Below is what the UK data protection agency ICO suggested. I also note that Family Tree DNA is not listed under the EU to US Privacy Shield.
                    -----------------------------
                    You have asked about a USA organisation who can investigate your data protection concerns regarding Family Tree DNA. There is no central Data protection authority in the USA, however the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has jurisdiction over most commercial entities and has authority to issue and enforce privacy regulations in specific areas. I have attached the link to their website for further information.


                    If you are a European citizen, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will apply to the processing of your personal data, where the data controller has offered goods or services to such data subjects in the Union. If this is the case you should raise your concerns in writing with the organisation, guidance on how to raise a concern can be found in the link provided.


                    If you are not satisfied with the response your receive from the Family Tree DNA, you can then bring this to the ICO as a case for assessment, again you can do this by selection the link to Make a complaint.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Sprite View Post
                      The FBI has their own DNA database and lab so questionable what real information they will glean from FTDNA (are samples from cheek swabs??? Not likely unless DOA or already in custody) and as they work by stealth who knows if Big Brother is researching crime and geneaology too. I know it is easy to be pessimistic.
                      The FBI database for DNA/Forensic matching is limited in many ways, and is mostly comprised of DNA collected from crime scenes and often involves "unidentified subjects." The only strong thing going for the FBI database is they have a "chain of custody" in regards to those results, so those results are usable in a court of law.

                      FTDNA maintains, or at least, hasn't maintained any such "chain of custody" on samples processed for its customers. So a FTDNA test result isn't usable in a court of law for the purposes of establishing things like paternity in a child custody case. What FTDNA can do is establish a probable cause, and provide justification for a "forensic DNA sample" to be obtained (by court order or voluntarily) and tested in a facility where "chain of custody" is adhered to.

                      The biggest thing FTDNA provides the FBI which the FBI database doesn't have is DNA that hasn't been previously found at crime scenes(or found their way into the database by other processes), and belongs to person who can be identified by various means. Which means gedmatch, and now FTDNA provide them a springboard from which they can begin to possibly turn "unknow sample" into "Relative of _____, _____, and _____" where they then get to try to figure out a family tree that links them all together. An additional thing FTDNA providing sequencing evidently brings into the mix is their test results are likely to be at a much higher resolution/quality than what most forensic labs are currently using.

                      https://www.nij.gov/journals/267/pag...nding-str.aspx
                      In the United States, 13 autosomal STR loci are now accepted as the system used for forensic purposes. Given a robust crime scene DNA sample with good data for all 13 STRs, the likelihood of a person unrelated to the actual perpetrator having a perfect match for all 13 is typically around 1 in 1 billion. By contrast, experimental work with a very robust set of 30 Y-STR loci showed a probability of about 1 in 50,000 for a perfect match
                      Edit also:

                      https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/05/us/no...ase/index.html
                      Last edited by bartarl260; 9th February 2019, 03:59 PM.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by bartarl260 View Post

                        The FBI database for DNA/Forensic matching is limited in many ways, and is mostly comprised of DNA collected from crime scenes and often involves "unidentified subjects." The only strong thing going for the FBI database is they have a "chain of custody" in regards to those results, so those results are usable in a court of law. . .
                        The problem is that these organizations are only honest to the degree that there is effective public oversight over them, as Greenspan's latest antics should amply prove. Don't blithely assume that authorities will simply act on the honor system, or even that they actually have the claimed level of expertise.

                        https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/h...oblems-9383687

                        The FBI in particular is an organization in ethical crisis.

                        http://time.com/5264153/the-fbi-is-i...ing-the-price/


                        The burden can't be on individual defendants to challenge powerful bureaucracies and corporations with bottomless pockets. Here's what prosecutors thought they could get away with when dealing with an indigent, mentally challenged defendant.

                        https://theintercept.com/2018/03/30/...f-all-charges/


                        There needs to be effective public oversight of these institutions.

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                        • #27
                          It may well be that the change in the terms of service should have been handled better. However, I have no real problem with the bigger issue here. If any of my relatives are murderers or rapists, and they get caught as a result of one of my tests, that's GOOD. I have no duty of loyalty to dangerous criminals, even if they are relatives. I am surprised law enforcement agencies were so slow to figure out how useful these data bases could be.

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                          • #28
                            Fraud is a crime, too.

                            "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes ?"

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                            • #29
                              The way this was handles still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If we were talking exclusively about solving basic crime, rape and murders fair enough, but I think FBI is interested in much more especially on research and predictors which often are inherently flawed and prejudicial. It is potentially an intelligence gathering operation.

                              What also bothers me is supposedly ftdna says FBI was using service by stealth. How many crime scenes contain swabbed cheek saliva? That means ftdna must have helped them convert blood and other dna samples for ancestry tests. Another conundrum. And potential lie.

                              I would really like to know in reality the scenario for using the test for crime solving and how it adds to capturing a criminal besides locating immediate ancestors who might know the whereabouts of a relative they may or may not suspect to be criminal.

                              Frankly the whole situation is dodgy. Whose to say the FBI is putting forth "criminals". Could be anyone they want to study and target. AI is here.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                I think some people are getting a little paranoid about what law enforcement is doing with DNA information. I work in the criminal justice field, and if anything the cops/FBI were really slow figuring out how important DNA and genealogy could be in solving crimes. I saw the potential several years ago. I personally am not concerned that that there is some "secret plan" to study the DNA of ordinary people who are not criminals. I rather think that idea is delusional. Here is how DNA and genealogy DNA sites can (and in my opinion should) be used to catch criminals. The cops obtain the DNA of a criminal as the result of a rape kit, or blood at the scene of a murder or other crime. Most states have their own DNA data bases of people who have been convicted of crimes, but unless the person they are looking for has been convicted before, there will be no "match" in that state data base. There may well be no exact match in any genealogy data base either, but there may well be cousins that tested. Assuming there are pedigrees attached to the tests, that lets law enforcement know who the grandparents or great-grandparents are of the perpetrator. This is where the genealogist comes in. By tracing all the descendants of the common ancestors, law enforcement now has a pool of potential suspects that has shrank from millions to a perhaps a couple dozen. It can quickly be narrowed down much more by looking at which of the descendants was living in the vicinity of the crime, which will often be only a couple, or even just one. From there the cops can do what is called a "garbage pull" from the trash can of the suspects home. (The Supreme Court has ruled one no longer has a expectation of privacy in garbage left outside for pickup.) If they find something with DNA on it (napkin, straw, disposable razor, etc.) that is an exact match to crime scene sample, they have found their target, and can get warrant to do a house search or an arrest.
                                There is no need to contact the person who submitted the DNA test to the company in this process. In the real world, law enforcement does not have the time and resources to even do all the work they should be doing on reported crimes. It is rather absurd to think the cops are "studying" normal people who are not criminals.

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