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Does FTDNA share someone's raw data with other entities?

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  • Does FTDNA share someone's raw data with other entities?

    I am having trouble getting family members to test (even though I provide kits) because "they don't want their DNA and health data out there." They read the Ts & Cs and are convinced that FTDNA shares their raw data. I am under the impression that they don't - am I correct?

  • #2
    P.S. - People are convinced that law enforcement can access DNA when attempting to solve a case. I am under the impression that they do not get your raw DNA - that they upload the DNA of a suspect and look at matches. Is this correct?


    • #3
      From what I've read, it seems to me that the average person thinks that law enforcement can access your actual raw DNA data file, or even the actual DNA, when they cannot. I am writing here about autosomal DNA, i.e., the Family Finder test. At FTDNA, law enforcement can submit DNA samples (from both victims and criminal suspects), which are then compared, just like any other customer's kit, to the FTDNA database. Law enforcement then has access to the same things which any customer has access:
      • Family Finder Match list
      • Ability to see matching segment data using the Chromosome Browser tool
      • Family tree, if the matches have one at FTDNA
      • Names and email addresses of the matches
      If a kit submitted by law enforcement (LE) matches a person, so far it seems that law enforcement will then use a genealogist experienced in these types of searches to help determine how that match is related to the person whose DNA was submitted by LE. In the case of looking for a suspect, they can then see if the person fits the profile determined by investigators. For a victim (John or Jane Doe), LE is seeking relatives to identify the victim.

      I don't see why LE would want either the raw data file, or the actual DNA sample. Usually the suspect will not take a commercial, genealogy-oriented DNA test; LE is getting matches to the suspect's relatives who have done so. If they can determine who the suspected criminal is from matching to relatives, they will then go directly to the suspect to get a verified sample of his or her DNA to use in their case.

      Customers can opt-out of matching to kits that have been submitted by law enforcement. Granted, this would be better if kits were opted out by default, and given the option to opt-in, but so far that is not how FTDNA is handling it (in contrast, does default to opt-out, with option to opt-in).

      See section 5 E of FTDNA's current Privacy Policy for how FTDNA shares customer information via law enforcement matching (dated 7 May 2019). Part of that section says:
      If you opt out of Law Enforcement Matching, law enforcement accounts will not be able to see you as a match or view any personal information viewable by matches. You have the ability to adjust your Law Enforcement Matching preferences at any time in your Privacy & Sharing settings located in your Account Settings.

      Please note, if you decline to participate in law enforcement matching, we may still be required to share your Personal Information to comply with a valid legal process as described in Section 5.D. Law enforcement matching is only permitted with accounts set up by FamilyTreeDNA on behalf of law enforcement authorities and their authorized representatives. Any other use of the matching database for law enforcement purposes violates our Terms of Service. Although FamilyTreeDNA relies on law enforcement officials and authorized representatives to identify themselves when requesting use of the site and FamilyTreeDNA has implemented controls to identify and prevent uses of the Services which violate our Terms of Service, FamilyTreeDNA cannot guarantee that law enforcement officials and their authorized representatives follow the requirements stated in our Terms of Service and Law Enforcement Guidelines. Use of the Service for law enforcement purposes is a privilege, not a right. FamilyTreeDNA reserves the right to revoke law enforcement’s account access for any reason without warning, including any use of the account for any law enforcement purpose not expressly agreed to by FamilyTreeDNA.
      Last edited by KATM; 8th March 2020, 01:39 PM.


      • #4
        KATM, thanks for the feedback. All was as I understood as well. Too much misinformation out there.


        • #5
          And a lot of "echo chambers," where too many people contribute to that misinformation.

          I should also add that FTDNA used to emphasize that their autosomal test did not test for health information. I think any FTDNA "partners" who offer health reports can only do so if you order their test, and then FTDNA performs that new test with your remaining DNA sample - NOT from the already completed Family Finder raw data.
          Last edited by KATM; 8th March 2020, 01:43 PM.


          • #6
            Indeed, KTAM. Thanks.