‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ ~ Data, DNA, and Privacy

I have told folks for ages, we keep it private. Talking about long dead people is one thing, sharing ancestors and DNA for genealogy with all the family is wonderful. But having long lost parent/child or siblings meet on television in front of a live audience? I don’t know. Just to get the work paid for?

Well, no one hardly ever gets around to paying me or even giving me a tip much less gives me a reference, but that is all ok – because I have told people to be careful about how much they share and when and to whom.

For DNA testing I have been laughed at for years by all kinds of folks when I tell my potential testers – ‘if they are concerned about being wanted for an indictable crime – or other sundry reasons – do not test your DNA’. Boy howdy was I right on that one. Yes, I have had several people to walk away after the ‘warning email’ but I have many cautions not just crimes.

Many folks do not know I help people identify biological families and also use DNA to prove family lines and identify ancestral biological families.

There is nothing like the excitement of learning your ancestor’s county does have birth records from the 1850s, only to receive a record where the clerk wrote boldly in all caps and large letters ILLEGITIMATE and faint into utter devastation. But then I suggested y-DNA and bingo – Bob’s your uncle – rather the (descendants of the) guys in the house down the road in 1850 and 1855 are a 37 for 37 match, later a 67 for 67 match. (It was a bit more complicated than this sounds but still – it was just a matter of finding and testing, for some results it will not be a matter of if but when with so many new people testing)

Copy of shelby county folks epson scan

In the 1850s an illegitimate boy was born. 150 years later the male descendant is tested and matches in y-dna, male descendants of the men (a father and three adult male sons) who lived down the road.

A lost 1927 birth mother found, 1860s step siblings proven, an 18th century affair between neighbors revealed. Often the only thing standing in the way of proving a relationship or not is a willing tester. I have ‘laughed’ and said one day all might hear of my being arrested for holding someone down to swab their cheek or worse be caught in a grave robbing a tooth.

I still have my father’s sealed envelopes with stamps. Well, 1 and 1/2 of the flaps and two stamps. BUT I was also worried that my grandmother might have sent him envelopes with stamps that I knew if I sprang for the $695USD for a 12 marler y-DNA only (at the time) that I would want them to sequence each section separately. But by the time I decided I should test it and eat peanut butter for a couple of years to pay for it, that company quit doing this test (because of too many disappointments, I think).

Although there are few who can afford the testing of toothbrushes, wrist watches and ?combs? envelopes? I tell folks to bag and tag your ancestors stuff. I have wads of mothers hair and although most of it will not have roots, I did cut it when it had gotten too long and she did fuss that I was pulling too hard at times and so maybe I did get a bit of DNA.

Now I am a bit too tired and puny to give much in identifying and finding dead people and living but with the new privacy acts, my view is life and research is over as we knew it – and sorry but you are on your own to find anyone – even dead ones.

The GDPR caused the biggest stir – but here in Merica no one noticed that all 50 states have also passed, signed and sealed their own data privacy guidelines and along with many other countries of the world impose heavy fines and all kinds of terrors for the miscreants.

I say flat out, the tone of the guidelines reek of governments wanting to put the fear of G-d into giants like Facebook, etc., and never think they just threw me and a lot of small business people, under the bus. But we must face the music and only time will tell if some aspects of DNA for genealogy are history – or herstory.

EU or Alabama regulations? – the tide is out.




Best place to start a google for info is Wikipedia – in their index you will find legit links


The GDPR was passed a couple of years ago and although the UK and EU are divorcing, the UK has still adopted the measure while they were still married and it holds.

Emails and letters came from every direction with new privacy practices and even with DNA project administrators like me, I not only sent around the notices but helped several folks who asked for a generic one for everybody. But this is specific to ftDNA projects only.


So many people are longing for their biological families and I wonder if the lure of the possibilities entices people into agreements that might turn out to be more than they can cope with. And, do people agree to be filmed under duress?

Not many people know who I and others have helped – it is private. There are many ways to ask for help without having to give one’s life story away.

cherie butterfly

Photo by Joni

Update – August 7th 2018 – Added US Laws – California enacting the toughest yet of all the state laws!





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