Should You Opt-Out of Law Enforcement Use on FamilyTree DNA? A Segment of DNA


you might have heard that family tree
DNA had some issues with law enforcement so is there something that you should do
with your account now howdy I am Andy Lee with family history fanatics and this is
a segment of DNA be sure to subscribe to our Channel and click on the bell if you
want to be notified about upcoming episodes about a month and a half ago it
was revealed that law enforcement had been using the Family Tree DNA database
in order to do some of their investigations and Family Tree DNA
admitted that they had been letting this happen with their knowledge for several
months now what the problem was is that they hadn’t notified their customers
that this was happening and so there was really a big uproar as far as privacy
concerns and what exact information that law enforcement was getting out of this
a lot of people were really concerned and I understand that completely law
enforcement use of these commercial genetic genealogy databases or public
genealogy databases has been happening for some time now in 2018 this was
brought to the public’s attention with the capture of the Golden State killer
and one of the main reasons why he was captured is because of the Ged match
database and being able to find distant matches of his from other people that
had tested and uploaded their information so let me say one thing
about genetic genealogy databases if a company allows uploads
of a raw data file from some other company there is the possibility of law
enforcement or somebody else using that ability to get information into the
database that may not be just for genealogy purposes now the terms and
conditions of both Family Tree DNA and my heritage DNA prohibit this and it’s
very restricted as far as what ged match allows however the fact that they allow
transfers to their database means that people other than genealogists could get
access to matches by putting that information into a file that looks like
a DNA file there’s nothing special about those files I’ve done a video on this
where actually showed you my raw DNA data file and all
it is is a spreadsheet of letters and numbers and so if you know the right
letters and numbers to put there then it’s going to look like any other file
one of the things that family tree DNA is done recently is they’ve allowed an
opt-out for those who do not want their DNA data to be matched with law
enforcement files now this doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be able to
match with others just that you won’t match with any law enforcement files so
let me show you how you can do that when you log in to Family Tree DNA you come
to the home page right here now if you haven’t logged in in a while one thing
that you will notice is it is probably going to be telling you that hey our
Terms of Service and our privacy policy have changed and they were updated on
the 12th of March now you should have received an email for this but if for
some reason that email you’re no longer using or your mailbox is full then you
might not have actually received that email so it’s important to go in and
actually check out these new Terms of Service and the privacy policy make sure
that it’s still something that you want to adhere to in order to use the service
one thing that needs to be mentioned is that if for any reason you want to
delete your data that is on the website you cannot do that from the website you
need to contact Family Tree DNA directly in order to do that go up to your
account icon and click on the Learning Center and on the Learning Center page
if you scroll down to the bottom there is a Contact Us link and from here you
can actually get the phone number for the contact with family if for any
reason you do want to delete your information off the Family Tree DNA that
is the number you need a call you’re not going to be able to delete your account
just from the website with the new opt in for DNA matches where do you need to
go for that looking at the website again you’re going to go up to your account
icon up here and go to the account settings button now this is going to
bring up various things so if you do need to change your name your address
anything like that you can do that in the account information here if you want
to change your password or really importantly is the beneficiary
information because what this allows is if you pass away it will allow someone
else to be able to access your DNA data now for the matches where we want to go
is we want to go into privacy and sharing now there’s several different
options here and so it’s important to actually read through and understand
what each of the options are I’m gonna actually show you how you can turn off
all sharing for everything on this account I actually have two accounts one
that is my 23andme data that was transferred over and one that is my
family tree DNA from the tests that I took with Family Tree DNA so as I scroll
down the first thing is the matching preferences I want to talk about and it
says to view your DNA relatives you must opt into matching now for most people
this should be in automatically unless when you set up the account you decided
to opt out so in this case in order to not have any matches and again this
means you won’t see any of your DNA relatives and they won’t see you
then you just click on this button and you can see that it’s going to not allow
matching anywhere else on there so with just that one thing I can take away all
my matching that’s probably not what most people want to do if you have
concerns as far as law enforcement then what you actually want to do is this
next one which is the law enforcement matching and it goes through and it
explains that law enforcement does have the capability of uploading certain kits
to be able to match with it they are identified specifically by Family Tree
DNA if you want to opt out of the law enforcement then you can click on this
button now one thing to really note here is that law enforcement accounts they
don’t see anything else other than what any other match sees so if you’re
concerned about law enforcement getting more information from family dream aid
than others what Family Tree DNA is saying is the only thing they’re showing
law enforcement is the same information that you already allow sharing with
other people now if you are part of the European Union the GDPR
should have automatically made it so that this is an opt-out for you so if
you want to go and check I would highly recommend that you do that and make sure their settings are where you want them to be now if you scroll down
there’s actually some other things that you can do as far as what kind of
matching you want to see so for instance you can select for each of the different
tests for Family finder mitochondrial innate and why DNA what the match level
is and they have different match levels so they have distant relatives they have
close relatives they have immediate relatives only and of course none so if
you only want to see immediate relatives then you can change that matching to
just immediate relatives and all the distant matches are not going to be
showing up and finally at the bottom you can see there’s this origin sharing and
my heads covering it up right there as far as the button but if you want to
share your ethnicity results with your matches then you can have this toggled
on in this case I’m just going to toggle this off for right now and finally the
very bottom is the family tree sharing and again I’m covering it up with my
body but there is the option there that you can change it from just you to only
your matches to everybody that can see your tree in this case for this account
I’m going to change this just to only me and in fact I’m actually going to go
back up I’m gonna opt out a matching completely on this account so that way
it’s not showing up because really this is just a do blade account now at this
point so now that I’ve turned off my matches what should I be seeing well if
I go back to the home page it looks the exact same but is it really now what I
go click on matches I get this that’s saying that hey that release form hasn’t
been signed that’s because I’ve turned off all matching so all of those matches
I’m not going to see anymore so again if you want to not have any
matches being shown then you want to turn off all matches if you’re just
concerned about law enforcement then just turn off the law enforcement
matches but again I would suggest with everybody that you actually go and check
these settings to make sure they’re what you think they are and they’re not
something else now when this happened in the beginning
of February I was actually curious about how many people are going to turn off
matches because I saw several blogs and people were passionate about it and I
understand because your privacy is something that is important to everybody
and so I wanted to see if there was a way I could check
how big of an effect this is going to have and it turns out I had a match list
recently that I downloaded in December just of last year of my family treat DNA
matches and so over the last six weeks what I’ve done is periodically I’ve gone
and I’ve downloaded that match list from Family Tree DNA and I’ve compared it to
the original match list to see how many of those original people are still on
there now I’m not sure how much I was expecting but basically with the amount
of fervor that was behind a lot of the blog posts that I was seeing I was
expecting probably about a 10% drop over you know the first couple of weeks and
maybe tapering off a little bit after that but I was really surprised as you
can see from the results now this is just my matchless so other people’s
matchless may be different only about 1% of people either deleted their account
or change their account to no matching at all now I know that a lot of people
probably aren’t looking into Family Tree DNA every day but that’s why I did this
over 6 weeks so it’s been about a month and a half now that I’ve gathered this
data and it’s still just about 1% I’m really curious is how much this is going
to decrease even further and whether or not this is just a natural decrease or
whether this is actually because of the issues with law enforcement that were
brought up with Family Tree DNA now I expect that a lot of family tree DNA’s
customers and usually I’d say in the 25 to 30% range are using Family Tree DNA
at least on a monthly basis so the fact that only 1% of them have turned off
that matching they know about this issue and they’re not comfortable with it and
so they’ve turned off that matching what was really surprising because I thought
it was going to be a lot more than that now I know everybody is not happy with
Family Tree DNA solution right now but they are trying to do something so we’ll
see if they do more in the future as far as maybe making it so that it’s an
opt-in for law enforcement and either than an opt-out for law enforcement
automatically but we’ll see one of the things that people have asked me is
whether I’m comfortable with Family Tree DNA and what
law enforcement in my answer really is yeah am i comfortable with how Family
Tree DNA handled it no but on the other hand I maybe it’s just the cynical part
of me I don’t expect a lot from big companies I don’t expect a lot from
little companies companies are in the business to make money and companies are
made up of people and people make mistakes and people make some boneheaded
decisions sometime I think in this case this was Family Tree DNA thinking they
were doing the right thing but doing about it in a in a wrong way and it was
the way that you know it really made a lot of their customers angry right now
it looks like they’re trying to make amends and I hope they continue to do
that and reach out to their customers and understand what their customers
really want and if you have any questions about Family Tree DNA or about
the issues with law enforcement using genetic genealogy databases put it in
the comments below and I’ll try to answer it and if you like this video
give it a thumbs up and pass it along to all your friends

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