Law enforcement can plunder DNA profile database, judge rules

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I honestly think most adults online need a parental lock on their personal data because they share it without thinking otherwise :D We've had headline after headline for years about the consequences of sharing data, sites hacked, government surveillance and yet here we are sharing DNA online heh. If your criminal fanily has a budding geneologist family meals could get awkward....

Plus side, there's a lot of family tracing you can do without resorting to DNA. Mum had one session with a geneologist but 99% of the stuff she's researched herself. The only time our family research got creepy was mum visiting all these local graveyards when I was a teenager. "Let's go for a picnic at [local village]" actually meant a good hour or two in a graveyard followed by sammiches in the car park. You'd be on a nice scenic drive and she'd spot an old church and that was it.
 

Caliandris

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Genealogy is one of my passions. There really is no point in doing your DNA if you aren't going to share it... the ethnicity estimates are still very dodgy, but when you share DNA with other people it's fascinating to triangulate the data to work out where the links are. Sometimes, paper genealogy can only get you so far, and you need DNA to make progress. If you are adopted, if you have what they call a non-paternity event in the family, or if your ancestors are good at hiding...there are concerns about the ways in which the data can be misused, of course, but to be quite frank, if I had a rapist or murderer in the family, I would really rather they were caught than not.
 

danielravennest

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Plus side, there's a lot of family tracing you can do without resorting to DNA. Mum had one session with a geneologist but 99% of the stuff she's researched herself. The only time our family research got creepy was mum visiting all these local graveyards when I was a teenager. "Let's go for a picnic at [local village]" actually meant a good hour or two in a graveyard followed by sammiches in the car park. You'd be on a nice scenic drive and she'd spot an old church and that was it.
When I lived way out in the boonies in Alabama, there was a small family graveyard just across the property line from my place. They stopped burying people there in the 1930's when the government bought the land for a national forest. So it was old and unkept, with trees growing through it. I didn't have to do anything for Halloween, it was pre-haunted. All the little headstones for children are a sobering reminder of how far medicine has come.
 

Grandma Bates

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Genealogy is one of my passions. There really is no point in doing your DNA if you aren't going to share it... the ethnicity estimates are still very dodgy, but when you share DNA with other people it's fascinating to triangulate the data to work out where the links are. Sometimes, paper genealogy can only get you so far, and you need DNA to make progress. If you are adopted, if you have what they call a non-paternity event in the family, or if your ancestors are good at hiding...there are concerns about the ways in which the data can be misused, of course, but to be quite frank, if I had a rapist or murderer in the family, I would really rather they were caught than not.
Unfortunately, crime scenes are messy, and the way forensic technologies are used is not consistent. There are many examples where DNA picked up from crime scenes turned out to come from other people or the law enforcement personnel who were present. In one case, the DNA from a variety of crime scenese came from a lab technician, the Phantom of Heilbronn. At the same time the certainty associated with the technology has been greatly overstated. Moreover, some police departments are simply lazy and try to make use of unproven methods that turn out to be just plain bad.

Allowing police unfettered access to DNA databases is deeply problematic and makes it much easier for lazy detective work to implicate innocent people. What makes it so sinister is that an individual does not have much control over what happens to their information. If a family member submits their DNA then they are also sharing a portion of the DNA of every other family member. (All of the Y-DNA haplotype and all of the mitochondrial DNA haplogroup for those directly related.)

So, a warning for this is not just to those who want to commit a crime. You should be careful anytime you go outside and intermingle with people who might be involved in a crime or crime scene. You could be associated with a criminal event simply because you sneezed near the wrong person. If someone you know submitted their genetic details to one of these websites then Officer Snuffy may be knocking on your door and will be certain you are the person he is looking for. (For those of you in the US, just being the subject of a police inquiry can be fatal - just saying...)
 

Beebo Brink

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Despite all the potential risks, I'm one of those people who uploaded my Ancestry DNA to GEDmatch (although I haven't checked it in at least a year). Part of my motivation for sharing DNA info is intellectual curiosity -- the admittedly shaky Ancestry ethnic maps came for me, mirroring my genealogy tree pretty closely. But there's also an emotional curiosity; I've always wondered whether my father sired more children than just me and my half-sister. I'm running out of time to make those connections, but I still keep hoping.
 

Rose Karuna

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What concerns me even more than the police using genetic data bases are banks, insurance companies and employers.

What happens when it becomes known that someone in your family has a genetic disease and the bank decides not to loan anyone in your family money for a business or a house because they believe that the risk is too great? (This has been happening to cancer patients for a long time now: https://cancerworld.net/patient-voice/survivors-demand-a-fair-deal-from-financial-services/ ). Same goes for medical, life, car and even home owners insurance. Even employers can say that they can't afford the risk of some genetic diseases.

There are laws but they're weak: What is genetic discrimination?

Also there are no audited standards for securing the data bases for DNA like there are for, say banking information.

Hopefully my family listens to me and does not send their DNA into these testing labs. So far, they don't like the idea much either. What the police are trying to do now will cause at least some paranoid people (like me) to re-think sending in their DNA just for ancestry.
 
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Jolene Benoir

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My aunt and cousin both have their DNA out there. In fact they were able to, because of that, connect with another aunt, whom I have never known as she was put in adoption so so many years ago. I now have another aunt and four more cousins. I see the positives in how this came about, yet it was only a matter of time before law enforcement and others (with perhaps shady motives in mind) gained access to DNA records. This is somewhat uncharted territory but absolutely needs to be regulated and protected.
 
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Genealogy is one of my passions. There really is no point in doing your DNA if you aren't going to share it... the ethnicity estimates are still very dodgy, but when you share DNA with other people it's fascinating to triangulate the data to work out where the links are. Sometimes, paper genealogy can only get you so far, and you need DNA to make progress. If you are adopted, if you have what they call a non-paternity event in the family, or if your ancestors are good at hiding...there are concerns about the ways in which the data can be misused, of course, but to be quite frank, if I had a rapist or murderer in the family, I would really rather they were caught than not.
If you hit a wall with paper research and are desperate to trace a relative then I do understand someone thinking DNA is the answer. But I suspect a lot of people upload to those websites long before they even consulted a genologist or ran out of paper trails. I also think DNA is just the latest thing that people share without really stopping to think about the risks. Which aren't like sharing a credit card, where you call the bank and they block the old card and send out a new one. You can't buy new DNA or block it from being used. Having the police find criminals in your family is about the least of your problems in terms of risk IMO.

If I was in your position I'd get the info I needed from the ancestry websites and ask them all to delete my data from their servers. That might at least reduce the exposure to future problems and gets the info you're looking for. Otherwise it isn't a case of "if" your data is used for something unsavory, it's when.

I hope to find more of my family and get the family tree done. But if I share my DNA I share theirs too, I expose them to the same risks I'm taking and they didn't consent to it. I'd be breaching the privacy of family I know and love to find relatives I've never met or formed relationships with. I know how I felt with much less personal info being shared without my permission, it's not something I'd do to others.
 

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The problem with using genetic pre-dispositions of DNA for certain conditions is even that's not an exact science.

For example, I supposedly have straight hair, with no red at all. Last time I bleached my hair, for that matter, it turned -red- as a penny [before going to white..... ] and my hair isn't full on tiny curls, but to say its straight is...

And it says other things that aren't real accurate either.

Its still a fairly primitive science and my main reason for putting my DNA up is to find all my half cousins, possibly my other half-brother [the one we didn't know about until I was in college], and my son.

Finding other cousins, and weird things like just how much English aristocracy got into the family tree of a working class bastard like my dad, or just how many dna cousins I have with surnames right out of history [or a grocery shelf] is just the bonus plan. :D
 
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If I was in your position I'd get the info I needed from the ancestry websites and ask them all to delete my data from their servers. That might at least reduce the exposure to future problems and gets the info you're looking for. Otherwise it isn't a case of "if" your data is used for something unsavory, it's when.
That would likely prove difficult. Would you have the companies alter their terms of service just for her before she signed up?

 
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When I lived way out in the boonies in Alabama, there was a small family graveyard just across the property line from my place. They stopped burying people there in the 1930's when the government bought the land for a national forest. So it was old and unkept, with trees growing through it. I didn't have to do anything for Halloween, it was pre-haunted. All the little headstones for children are a sobering reminder of how far medicine has come.
That sounds like a lot of the wee graveyards in rural Scotland too, beautiful places. My mum is a retired nurse so we had a lot of conversations about some of the graves. I always found the science interesting, mum has 1930s/40s ish medical encyclopedias which are a little bit too well illustrated/photographed if you're squeamish. They're fascinating to read but some of the images are really hard to unsee.
 
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That would likely prove difficult. Would you have the companies alter their terms of service just for her before she signed up?

Oh my... I knew some of those sites probably had dodgy terms but that one actually has me speechless. Wow. And they have the nerve to charge users too. All those people who don't read the ToS, entirely oblivious to what they just signed away.
 

Caliandris

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Oh my... I knew some of those sites probably had dodgy terms but that one actually has me speechless. Wow. And they have the nerve to charge users too. All those people who don't read the ToS, entirely oblivious to what they just signed away.
Yes, Ancestry could misuse the data which they have collected. Some rogue Managing director could go ahead and use it in ways you didn't envisage because you have given them those permissions (or haven't revoked them). But that terms of service is similar to the LL "all your stuff belongs to us" clause. Unless you withdraw consent, your data will be compared to other people's data because that's the point of the service. That means that in future when your son/cousin/long lost father or brother has their DNA tested, your DNA will be compared with theirs and they will be added to your DNA matches.

I have been asked for permission for my DNA to be used in a number of things, and I was given a free choice to assent or not. The ways they are using it at the moment are the ways in which I wanted it to be used. Yes, that could change, yes that could leave my DNA exposed at some future date, but at present I am content with the service I am receiving, which is enabling me to confirm ancestors I have presumed but have no paper data to confirm.

Yes, it is possible for both the LL terms of service and the Ancestry terms of service to lead to an abuse of the data or creations, but that would be the end of their business model, in both cases.

Edited to add: as to the idea of future misuse by insurance companies etc... it is incumbent on us all to ensure that future governments make sensible laws about that. I'm already furious that companies in the US are able to patent natural and organic things.
 
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Rose Karuna

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Yes, Ancestry could misuse the data which they have collected. Some rogue Managing director could go ahead and use it in ways you didn't envisage because you have given them those permissions (or haven't revoked them). But that terms of service is similar to the LL "all your stuff belongs to us" clause. Unless you withdraw consent, your data will be compared to other people's data because that's the point of the service. That means that in future when your son/cousin/long lost father or brother has their DNA tested, your DNA will be compared with theirs and they will be added to your DNA matches.

I have been asked for permission for my DNA to be used in a number of things, and I was given a free choice to assent or not. The ways they are using it at the moment are the ways in which I wanted it to be used. Yes, that could change, yes that could leave my DNA exposed at some future date, but at present I am content with the service I am receiving, which is enabling me to confirm ancestors I have presumed but have no paper data to confirm.

Yes, it is possible for both the LL terms of service and the Ancestry terms of service to lead to an abuse of the data or creations, but that would be the end of their business model, in both cases.

Edited to add: as to the idea of future misuse by insurance companies etc... it is incumbent on us all to ensure that future governments make sensible laws about that. I'm already furious that companies in the US are able to patent natural and organic things.
Here in America we can't even protect a woman's right to choose her own medical care related to pregnancy and child birth, nor can we protect her privacy. What makes anyone think that Insurance companies, banks or employers with all their lobbying, will allow any laws that restrict their access to DNA?

Hell, just look at what was recently given to Google! Google's secret cache of medical data includes names and full details of millions – whistleblower

And in case anyone is wondering: 2018 was record breaking for data breaches of medical records Analysis of 2018 Healthcare Data Breaches

My rule of thumb now, trust no one, not even your doctor with information that you wouldn't announce on the neighborhood site "Next Door". :ashamed:

Trust no one. Seriously, that's what it's come down to. The only time I give out any information about myself is when I'm forced to and that's not without an argument about why their asking and how they intend to protect the information.
 
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Unless you withdraw consent, your data will be compared to other people's data because that's the point of the service.
Using my DNA for any commercial purpose they wish and not specifying how it is possible to even withdraw my consent is scary to me. Well, no it isn't since I won't be giving them my DNA.
 
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Yes, Ancestry could misuse the data which they have collected. Some rogue Managing director could go ahead and use it in ways you didn't envisage because you have given them those permissions (or haven't revoked them). But that terms of service is similar to the LL "all your stuff belongs to us" clause. Unless you withdraw consent, your data will be compared to other people's data because that's the point of the service. That means that in future when your son/cousin/long lost father or brother has their DNA tested, your DNA will be compared with theirs and they will be added to your DNA matches.
So, on the one hand there's your hope that maybe you'll find some new family. Maybe. On the other hand is the risk of data loss and misuse from leaving your data online. You seem to be more focused on the possible and the maybe, while sidestepping and minimising the risks you're taking in pursuit of them. It's like rolling the dice and hoping to get a new family match before your DNA gets stolen/misused. I'm fully aware how a site like Ancestry works to match your data, I just prefer to prevent data leaks instead of experiencing more of them. I'm like fly paper for assholes sometimes, I know better than push my luck :D
I have been asked for permission for my DNA to be used in a number of things, and I was given a free choice to assent or not. The ways they are using it at the moment are the ways in which I wanted it to be used. Yes, that could change, yes that could leave my DNA exposed at some future date, but at present I am content with the service I am receiving, which is enabling me to confirm ancestors I have presumed but have no paper data to confirm.
That just sounds like a hot mess of problems. Your DNA is on all those other computers and if they have a security breach you're probably reliant on Ancestry telling you about it. But then you might delete your data and Ancestry can't make money from you. I'm not sure they'll be in any hurry to tell you about those problems.
Yes, it is possible for both the LL terms of service and the Ancestry terms of service to lead to an abuse of the data or creations, but that would be the end of their business model, in both cases.
Really? Facebook are still in business and their users get more abuse than my terrier's toys. A company like Ancestry has a huge carrot to dangle in front of you: you might find some lost family. It doesn't get much more compelling than that. As someone who is happy with the service and really wants to find their family, would you really pull the plug and quit if they took advantage? Especially if it's via a gradual series of changes and nothing too shocking all at once.
 
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