I missed it earlier, but FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA) has updated its Terms of Service and Privacy Statement. I received an e-mail this afternoon with the following information.
We Are Updating Our Terms of Service and Privacy Statement Regarding Law Enforcement Matching Preferences
Dear Valued Customer,
We are emailing you to notify you of changes that we have made to our Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, and other guidelines and processes which govern how law enforcement may use our site. We now require all law enforcement authorities to register accounts under a special process, designed specifically for law enforcement and third parties working with law enforcement, which allows them to participate in our DNA matching program.
Our new policy changes to allow registration of law enforcement accounts will take effect today, March 12th.
If you do not wish to be matched with these designated law enforcement registered users, you have the ability to opt out by adjusting your Matching Preferences, which now includes an option to opt-out of Law Enforcement Matching. User accounts created prior to March 12th, 2019 that are flagged as an EU account have been opted out of Law Enforcement Matching but may choose to opt in.
Below you will find further details on the changes we are implementing.
Law Enforcement Registry
We have made changes to our Privacy Statement and Terms of Service to allow law enforcement authorities to upload DNA files to our DNA database and utilize our DNA matching service in certain limited circumstances and only if they comply with our specific procedures and processes. FamilyTreeDNA’s Terms of Service and Privacy Statement have been updated to require law enforcement, as well as any authorized representative working on behalf of law enforcement, to register all genetic files through a separate process prior to uploading to the database. Permission for law enforcement to upload genetic files will only be granted upon submission, review, and approval of all required documentation by a qualified staff member and under limiting circumstances as defined in our Law Enforcement Guide. The genetic file must be submitted by law enforcement and/or their legally authorized representative for the purpose of identifying the remains of a deceased individual or a perpetrator of a homicide or sexual assault.
The law enforcement registration process includes the required submittal of case-related information, i.e., case number, law enforcement agency, jurisdiction, principal investigator’s name, email, phone, city, state, and case circumstances. In the case of a legally authorized representative, there must be formal documentation of the law enforcement relationship and authorization by relevant law enforcement officials.
If approved for upload, FamilyTreeDNA will track these law enforcement accounts via an in-house identification system that will allow users to opt out of Law Enforcement Matching.
Law Enforcement Matching (LEM) Preferences
Law Enforcement Matching Opt-Out Option: Users now have the ability to opt out of matching with DNA relatives whose accounts are flagged as being created to identify the remains of a deceased individual or a perpetrator of a homicide or sexual assault, also referred to as Law Enforcement Matching (LEM).
User accounts created prior to March 12th, 2019 identified as residents of the European Union (EU): User accounts created prior to March 12th, 2019 that are identified as being accounts for individuals within the EU are currently opted out of Law Enforcement Matching. Accounts that have been opted out will have the ability to opt in by going to their Account Settings and adjusting their Matching Preferences.
How to adjust your Matching Preferences: Visit the Privacy & Sharing section within your Account Settings.
Law enforcement accounts will only show up in your matches list when both of the following requirements are met:
You are a genetic match to the uploaded genetic file
You and the law enforcement account have the same opt in to matching levels selected
Please note: If you opt out of Law Enforcement Matching, these accounts will not be able to see you as a match, but you will continue to see them as a match.
FamilyTreeDNA Citizen’s Panel
We are deeply grateful to our FamilyTreeDNA community for its support and input as we navigate this new and unexpected era of law enforcement’s use of genetic genealogy databases, like FamilyTreeDNA’s. We appreciate all of you who have shared your ideas and suggestions over the past few weeks.
To that end, we have created the FamilyTreeDNA Citizen’s Panel comprised of seven individuals with various backgrounds in genealogy, genetic genealogy, and bioethics with whom we will continuously share and review initiatives that could have a potential impact on user privacy. The following seven members were selected to join the panel:
Katherine Borges – Director of The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG)
Kenyatta Berry – Professional genealogist and host on PBS’s Genealogy Road Show
Roberta Estes – An early adopter of genetic genealogy and FamilyTreeDNA volunteer Group Project Administrator
Maurice Gleeson – Genetic genealogist, speaker and organizer of the Genetic Genealogy Conference in Ireland, and FamilyTreeDNA volunteer Group Project Administrator
Tim Janzen – Long-time genealogist, genetic genealogy lecturer for Oregon’s local ISOGG group and other genetic genealogy conferences, and FamilyTreeDNA volunteer Group Project Administrator
Amy McGuire – Lawyer and Leon Jaworski Professor of Biomedical Ethics and Director of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Baylor College of Medicine
Bob McLaren – An early adopter of genetic genealogy and FamilyTreeDNA volunteer Group Project Administrator
If you have further questions, we invite you to check out the Law Enforcement FAQ where we’ve addressed many of the frequently asked questions on this subject. If you don’t see your question here, please contact us.