The Match Might Not Be A Relative ~ The Match Might Be The Law With Your Relative’s DNA

A thin blue line crossing the 4th amendment.

Which is fine with me but did anyone think this would not make headlines? Did anyone think this could go on for ‘how long’ before it blew wide open?

Now The New York Times produces yet another bombshell in its new report…

But we enthusiasts for genetic genealogy are not equipped for having heart attacks over our new matches. Some of us are fairly long in the tooth and not in perfect health. Some of us do not want to learn we might have the Warrior gene – some of the gene for aberrant behavior  – the genes that might make us interesting.

Folks are worried about the collapse of the database if too many take off. Likely they will get more people – that is not the point. This is about pre-existing conditions, and genetic genealogy-meets-politics..  Not only are we not ‘certified’ yet, we certainly do not have a legislative committee to represent us in Washington.

There are enough samples in databases now that even without those who might quit, there should be enough left to identify most any American, even without newcomers (which, like I say, I bet Americans could come in droves to help). But I bet this could destroy the world market that was just exploding for DNA-for-genealogy, and that is a shame.  I have waited 15 years for the Africans, Asians and Europeans to want to get on board and I bet they will run like hell now. Why would the rest of the world trust any American company?

Interpol, I bet, would have said to American Law Enforcement: Couldn’t you wait a bit and do this on the sly and let the database fill up worldwide and also save the world from bad guys?  Now you have run people off worldwide from what might have become the best human database ever dreamed of.

The New York Times has a few extra points in its story today.


“…“Law enforcement has the ability to test DNA samples from crime scenes and upload the results into databases, like any other customer can, and it appears they have been doing it at other companies for the past year,” he said. “The distinction is that, according to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, we expect the FBI and law enforcement agencies to let us know when they submit something to our database.”…”

about ftDNA

“…“The company needs to either roll back the change or else delete all stored DNA data it has collected from individuals under the previous agreement,” Mr. Butler said….”

More is revealed about this every day

The story broke last Friday about Family Tree DNA and their deal with Law Enforcement. Unfortunately for all the DNA world, customers learned about this from the reporting from Salvador Hernandez on BuzzFeed. Now three days later it is more that Family Tree DNA has outed the other companies who have not disclosed there is a chance that law enforcement might be your new match with your relative’s DNA.

There is no one I know who doesn’t want to help catch the bad guys – but there is already little trust from some quarters, and in today’s political atmosphere we want heroes and heroines who don’t cheat.

I was going to write in a separate post about the blackmail of ftDNA’s letter

But The Legal Genealogist has done a magnificent job – hats off and thanks to them for their continued explanations of these issues.

Copy of cacapon 2015 jan luminex 004

The thin blue line

More than ten years ago I was sending cautions to people deciding on testing – I cautioned they can be surprised to find new family members or sometimes to find that someone is not the family member they expect. I also cautioned if a person thought they might be wanted for an indictable crime and have left DNA, they should think twice about testing. This was laughed at by some.

Now this story circulates about how other ‘companies’ might have already had law enforcement using them also for ?? a year ?? The reply has been no they would have to have a spit sample and those can’t be faked or whatever.

But all over there are suggestions on how to to just that. People want the test for elders who cannot spit, and mother’s for their babies who won’t – not at the right time and place. A mother’s website has even made a video on how-to and says she has the results for her baby.


And from yesterday and the day before, previous thoughts

The SNPs associated with medical pre-existing conditions and a database of genes of aberrant behavior


And what ftDNA offered is that if we do not like it – we are not nice people and can opt out – Lose all our years of research and matching with others and new markers and years of new products and we can just walk away.

Opt Out?

One poster talked about the news with added thoughts – she seemed to think it would be “impossible” to make an opt in // opt out set up –

Wrong!!! There are many opt ins and outs already and the promise was there to notify upfront.

The writer also adds people have spent $79 to $199

Wrong!!! If this turns into a use-also of y-DNA and mt-DNA which would likely be the case, the kits for men might have 12 to 500 str markers which could be as high as $500 even when gotten on sale. The SNP packs are $99 to $120 more; maybe I will have to go through all the card statements.

Some people might have bought their Family Finder autosomal when it first came out and then that was $298 – I think – and I think we got out the first deep dish sale. The mt-DNA HVR1 and HVR2 and coding regions and then the specific test for H. So this is just one man and we are well over $1,000 – I bet. Mine would be close to $500 personally; women do not have y-DNA.

Another great genealogy blogger and writer John Hawks has weighed in: “…But we are inevitably within a couple of years of law enforcement being able to track down a third cousin of any genetic sample they collect…”

Family Tree DNA is not likely to lose people by the time the dust settles – not Americans. I bet many more will join to help the search. I have been in the databases the police use already as they began with Gedmatch – so I am found.


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