Forensic genealogy

According to a recent article in BuzzFeed, Family Tree DNA is now cooperating with the FBI to solve cold cases.

From their perspective, this is not a violation of their user agreement, since their database has always been open to anyone who wanted to upload a DNA profile.  However, most of us uploaded our DNA with the implicit understanding that it would be used for family history, not crime fighting.

As a genealogist, I'm concerned that this will make my job more difficult.  I fear people will be less likely to upload their DNA or to share identifying information.

What do you think:  breach of trust or no big deal?

1 thought on “Forensic genealogy”

  1. Yes, I think that sharing DNA with law enforcement is a breach of trust and violation of privacy. As one that works in a library, libraries follow certain ethical policies and I see that sharing people’s DNA outside of the original intent of exploring a person’s genetic make-up, searching for one’s ancestors, and finding relatives, an ethical violation and attack of individuals. Unfortunately people do not read the fine print to notice that certain companies keep your DNA results and you cannot delete them if wish. In this unregulated industry, many do not take DNA test due to abuse from outside and third-parties using submitted DNA in ways, such as law enforcement, not intended. is currently the only site I know of which will let you completely delete your DNA. All others keep your DNA on file. Yes, this does cause fear, distrust, and many will not share identifying information. Better protections for consumers need to be developed prior to people feeling more at ease to sharing this information. More guarantees and laws protecting how DNA samples are used need to be developed and defined to stop misuse of DNA databases of individuals.

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