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  • Privacy and Ethics

    After analysis and thought and considering the 14th Amendment the ‘opt out’ option for law enforcement matching should be the default on Family Tree. It’s the only ethical thing to do. Opt In should be a deliberate choice made by those who have accounts on Family Tree.

    As someone who administers my own Family Tree account and thirteen others this has become my position. Even those who are in Family Tree Projects are opted out. Why? Because the project managers are the custodians of those accounts and it’s their responsibility and the ethical thing to do to protect those accounts and their privacy. In the same sense Family Tree is the custodian of all the accounts. The ‘opt out’ option should be the default.

    After receiving the new privacy email from Family Tree, I immediately wrote all the accounts I administer and advised them that I had opted out of law enforcement matching on their accounts and asked them to let me know if they wanted to opt in and I would change it. Only one person has responded. This response has helped me take the position that ‘opt ou’t should be the default.
    The person who responded was rather irate because she didn’t even remember that she had tested for me three years prior. I had to gently remind her that she had tested three years ago for me and she sheepishly replied that she now remembered. She stated that she had no interest in her account.

    Since I received no other responses from those I emailed this made me realize there are probably at least hundreds of accounts on Family Tree which are basically inactive and the same as those I administer. Some may be deceased or others completely lost interest and do not check their accounts and pay no attention to emails sent to them by Family Tree. Should they lose their 14th Amendment rights because of this? No!! It’s Family Trees responsibility to do the ethical thing and make ‘opt out’ the default.

    A person with an active account on Family Tree should have to deliberately select to ‘opt in’ to Law Enforcement matching not the other way around.

  • #2
    The above post should have said the 4th Amendment not the 14th Amendment.

    Comment


    • #3
      As someone with a similar situation regarding managing many other accounts, I agree, and have gone down a similar path.

      I wonder if the FamilyTreeDNA Citizen's Panel (announced in the email notification about opting-out) was only able to convince the "power(s) that be" at FTDNA to halfway relent by adding the "opt-out" function, as a compromise to going all the way and having the ethically proper and sensible "opt-in" function. It remains to be seen if this opt-out option will be enough to return FTDNA to the good graces of many, both customers and others.

      I eagerly await reports from FTDNA's International Conference on Genetic Genealogy this coming weekend in Houston, to see if questions are asked and answered about this issue.

      Comment


      • #4
        Did you notice that "opt-out" is the default for testers in Europe?

        Since I do not have to pay attention to GDPR details, anyone knows whether GDPR is enforcing that?


        Mr. W.

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes, I noticed it, because FTDNA mentioned it in their email. I would think that FTDNA is doing that to preempt any action by the GDPR, if it is not already due to enforcement. It seems like it would have been easier to provide opt-out for all accounts, vs. having one policy for European accounts, and another for U.S. and other non-European areas.

          Comment


          • #6
            "Disabled" is default for European Union, obviously because of gdpr.

            For a tester in Europe, his country not in European Union, it was "enabled".

            gdpr is complicated, we are still learning.

            One rule goes like this:
            If a company is collecting personal data for one reason, it should not use it for a different reason.

            You tested for genealogy matching - it does not give the company the right to use your data for law-enforcement, at least not without your consent, a court warrant, or something like that.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Emona View Post
              "Disabled" is default for European Union, obviously because of gdpr.

              For a tester in Europe, his country not in European Union, it was "enabled".

              gdpr is complicated, we are still learning.

              One rule goes like this:
              If a company is collecting personal data for one reason, it should not use it for a different reason.

              You tested for genealogy matching - it does not give the company the right to use your data for law-enforcement, at least not without your consent, a court warrant, or something like that.
              @Emona, thank you for letting us know that those in Europe to whom GDPR does not apply had been set to "opt-in".

              Funny facts: GDPR applies to EU, and Island, Norway and Switzerland. After the 29th of March 2019 (or...), GDPR itself might not be applicable to the UK, but for the purpose of this discussion the same language automatically becomes a law in England (DPA 2018 does not enter the picture here).


              Mr. W.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by dna View Post
                @Emona, thank you for letting us know that those in Europe to whom GDPR does not apply had been set to "opt-in".

                Funny facts: GDPR applies to EU, and Island, Norway and Switzerland. After the 29th of March 2019 (or...), GDPR itself might not be applicable to the UK, but for the purpose of this discussion the same language automatically becomes a law in England (DPA 2018 does not enter the picture here).


                Mr. W.
                Scrap Switzerland, insert adjacent Lichtenstein instead.


                Mr. W.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Maurice Gleeson, well-known Irish genetic genealogist, speaker, and more, is on the FTDNA Citizen's Panel, as announced in their recent email. He has posted his recommendations to FTDNA in his input to the Citizen's Panel, in his blog. His full recommendations are included in the post, in which he advocates for the settings for all customers to be "opt-out" as default, with optional "opt-in" to share with Law Enforcement (as the settings are now set only for those in the EU, to comply with GDPR).

                  Also, an article in Forensic Magazine, entitled "Exclusive: The FBI Had Already Accessed Family Tree DNA’s Database Before Cooperation," is an interesting read, but question-provoking. The FBI apparently told him that they would file endless subpoenas to get access, so he chose to cooperate with them. The concluding quote by Mr. Greenspan, “DNA doesn’t put innocent people in jail,” is unfortunately not true, though.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Very similar to some of my arguments and I'm not an expert... It's actually a disgrace what Family Tree has done. It's unethical. They have stomped all over our rights by making 'opt in' the default.
                    Tenn4ever
                    FTDNA Customer
                    Last edited by Tenn4ever; 20 March 2019, 11:16 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Opt In shouldn't be the default setting, but at least, FTDNA sent me a letter explaining the situation. I simply went to my tests and hit opt out.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tenn4ever View Post
                        Since I received no other responses from those I emailed this made me realize there are probably at least hundreds of accounts on Family Tree which are basically inactive and the same as those I administer. Some may be deceased or others completely lost interest and do not check their accounts and pay no attention to emails sent to them by Family Tree. Should they lose their 14th Amendment rights because of this? No!! It’s Family Trees responsibility to do the ethical thing and make ‘opt out’ the default.
                        Luckily for me, my adventure into getting others tested didn't start until after the Golden State Killer news broke, so law enforcement use of DNA information has been part of my discussions with others. All of the ones who have agreed to test have been in the camp of "if there is a criminal in the family tree bad enough they're using DNA to find them, I want them found" so its a mostly a non-issue for me. There are some horror stories out there, a town not far from where I live was ground zero for perpetrating one such example of it, luckily for that gentleman he only dealt with suspicion, and was never charged, but that still put him through a proverbial wringer.

                        I do have to say "mostly" because the changes to the interpretation/implementation of the TOS themselves, and how it was carried out was disconcerting all the same.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Do I understand correctly - if Law Enforcement has entered a Kit and found that I am a match, then to get my phone number and/or address and/or any name other than what I choose to show on the Kit and/or any information used for ordering not visible on the Kit to the rest of my matches - Law Enforcement would then definitely have to come back with a subpoena - yes?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by loobster View Post
                            Do I understand correctly - if Law Enforcement has entered a Kit and found that I am a match, then to get my phone number and/or address and/or any name other than what I choose to show on the Kit and/or any information used for ordering not visible on the Kit to the rest of my matches - Law Enforcement would then definitely have to come back with a subpoena - yes?
                            Yes, any extra info that is not shown to any other match would require a subpoena

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by prairielad View Post
                              Yes, any extra info that is not shown to any other match would require a subpoena

                              What Prairielad posted. Their match results are the same as you or I would get with our test results.

                              If they want more information than that. They have to obtain a court order, or use the available contact information the match provided.

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