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A popular genealogy website is now sharing its DNA data with the FBI

By William Gayde · 7 replies
Feb 3, 2019
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  1. The company currently has DNA samples for nearly 2 million people and confirmed this late week that their data is now accessible by the FBI.

    Through this agreement, the FBI will be able to submit crime-scene DNA samples to FamilyTreeDNA for analysis and to find potential matches in their database. The company has said that the FBI's access will be heavily monitored and that they will "not have unfettered access to the FamilyTreeDNA database," but privacy advocates are still concerned.

    Since the vast majority of our DNA is shared and passed down through families, the FBI only needs about 2% of the population's DNA to create profiles for everyone. For example, you may not want your DNA made available, but if a family relative does, that effectively makes yours available, too.

    This is not the first time the FBI has used consumer genetic data though. In the past, some databases have allowed the FBI a case-by-case access to help solve individual crimes. This was famously used last year to catch the Golden State Killer. FamilyTreeDNA's decision does however mark the first time a commercial company has voluntarily shared their data with law enforcement.

    Last year, FamilyTreeDNA agreed to a suite of industry best practices for privacy in the consumer DNA industry. As a result, a prominent genetic industry privacy watchdog group just crossed them off that list of best practices.

    FamilyTreeDNA views the degradation of privacy as worth it to help protect against false convictions. They released the following statement:

    “The real risk is not exposure of info but that an innocent person could be swept up in a criminal investigation because his or her cousin has taken a DNA test. On the other hand, the more people in the databases and the closer the matches, the less chance there is that people will make mistakes.’’

    Permalink to story.

  2. netman

    netman TS Addict Posts: 249   +71

    Great, keep sending them your DNA to see if you have an alien ancestry on the dark side of the moon!
  3. Dimitrios

    Dimitrios TS Guru Posts: 385   +261

    Who's in charge with that company, Zuckerberg? ;-)
  4. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,624   +2,361

    I warned everyone I knew about companies like Ancestry.com. Sadly, very few listened. DNA can be manufactured now, and if someone has a sample of yours they do anything with it including implicate you in crimes you didn't commit. The cost of the fabrication process is also decreasing rapidly. Forget about deep fakes - you'll soon be hearing about deep frames.
    havok585 and JaredTheDragon like this.
  5. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,517   +1,724

    Everyone with a brain saw this coming.

    When people ask me "why dont you want to embrace new tech?" THIS is why. All this new tech can and will be used against you eventually.
    LeroN likes this.
  6. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 517   +393

    Fabricating small bits of DNA is cheap but making an entire human chromosome is not an option for the foreseeable future. There’s a lot more structure there than just DNA. I’m not worried about that as just getting a bit of the real thing from you through other means will be far more convincing. Anyway the OJ trial proved that DNA ain’t worth a damn if you have a high priced lawyer.
  7. Gus Fring

    Gus Fring TS Rookie Posts: 17

    So, how close are they to getting access to 2% of DNA? it may be a problem in the west but think about what CHINA is doing .. I suspect every child born is being DNA sampled. There's your 2% in less than 3 years...
    I love how they trumpet the success , but keep very quiet about the downsides ...
  8. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,152   +1,411

    Unless you're one of those innocent people rotting in prison when a simple DNA test could prove your innocence.

    To be fair though, we know what the FBI is capable of if they get fixated on you. Look what they did to that guy they indicted on lying. They showed up in the middle of the night and broke down his door with guns drawn. Sure, they could have called him on the phone and told him to come in for questioning, but what's the fun in that? We all know how dangerous though 80 year old white-collar criminals are.

    He was a friend of Trumps though so no one really cares, but it's still a reminder that 'innocent until proven guilty' doesn't mean they have to treat you like you're innocent.
    cliffordcooley likes this.

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