After much thought, I’ve requested removal of my DNA test kit from the FamilyTreeDNA site. The lack of transparency on the part of FamilyTreeDNA has weighed heavy in my decision.
As Bennett Greenspan (President of FamilyTreeDNA) indicated in his statement, the Terms of Service of FamilyTreeDNA in regards to law enforcement were changed in December 2018 without notifying customers. For any genealogy DNA company to make such changes to their Terms of Service in the 21st century era of privacy and data concerns without notifying customers shows extremely poor judgment. I’m not opposed to the use of genealogical DNA test sites for law enforcement in certain situations-far from it. In fact I have my test kit at GedMatch.com which has been used in several high profile criminal cases. FamilyTreeDNA did not make users aware of the December changes until those changes were noticed by the media this past week.
There’s more reading about FamilyTreeDNA here:
- Greenspan’s letter to customers can be viewed on the Mailchimp site.
- “Opening the DNA Floodgates”–Judy Russell’s take on the FamilyTreeDNA situation
Greenspan says in his open letter to customers:
I fully understand your privacy concerns on a personal level.
Then why were customers not personally notified about the changes in the Terms of Service in December? It woulds seem to me that someone who fully understands privacy concerns would have seen the need to tell customers about this change.
FamilyTreeDNA has gone back to the May 2018 Terms of Service as a result of the dust up over the now-retracted December 2018 changes. Those changed terms (the May 2018 version) were sent to customers when those changes were made in FamilyTreeDNA’s effort to become GDPR-compliant in May of 2018.
Readers are encouraged to find out more and to decide for themselves.
I don’t expect complete privacy in 2019. I understand the world in which we live. I just expect a company who “fully understands” privacy concerns to be a little more forthcoming without the media and the genealogical community doing your “forthcoming” for you.