According to a recent article from the New York Times, FamilyTreeDNA, a top player in the Direct-To-Consumer genetics space, has admitted to giving the FBI access to it’s digital genetic database for the purpose of solving crimes.
But this disclosure has set off outrage from their customer base, as many believed their information would stay private.
But Solving Crimes Is Good, Right?
But I ask, “Do the ends justify the means?”
Meaning, are crimes worth solving at any cost, even if it means trampling on the rights of non-implicated individuals?
FamilyTreeDNA has been accused of “bait and switch’ privacy tactics, and not being forthcoming with customers how their genetic data is being used.
On this note, NYU Law School Professor Erin E. Murphy has said, “It’s a good example of, are you willing to stay abreast of every terms of service change with FamilyTreeDNA, or are you doing it once because it was a holiday present?”
Chopping Down The Family Tree
This is just another example of third parties, like the FBI, using customer genetic databases in ways that the customer never intended.
According to the article, “More than 15 million people have submitted their DNA to companies like FamilyTreeDNA in recent years. While they represent a small fraction of all people, the pool of profiles is large enough to allow 60 percent of white Americans — the primary users of DNA sites in the United States — to be identified through the databases, according to researchers.”
This is an alarming statistic, that so many people in the United States have been deanonymized by a small number of people uploading their DNA and family information to these genealogical databases.
What Does This All Mean?
This situation is just another example of why it is so important to protect your anonymity online – companies can change their privacy policies at any time, and sell you up the river.
If you are truly concerned about you privacy, you need to stay anonymous online when you are dealing with your sensitive data, like genetic and family information. It is the only way to truly guarantee your information won’t be used in a way you never intended.
Secret Sequence is here to help you take advantage of genetic testing, while protecting you from unwanted surveillance.