Report:DNA Firm Sharing Info With FBI
It’s been a popular thing for a while now. Spend a few bucks, ship off a little of your spit and find out what your made of, literally.
We’ve come a long, long way from the early years of DNA testing in the 80’s, when such analysis took a lab filled with equipment that few possessed and cost thousands to perform. Now, for less than $50, you can find out exactly what your ancestry looks like. Are you Irish? American Indian? Italian? You’ve got questions, and somewhere, a lab can give you answers. Searching for family members? A DNA test can point you to them. I’ve always been a bit suspicious of this testing. Looks like my suspicions may have been well founded.
It’s a situation that’s a bit too ‘1984’-esque for me.
Buzz Feed reports that FamilyTreeDNA, one of the oldest and largest consumer DNA collection and testing firms, is in fact sharing its huge database of DNA data with the FBI, giving agents access to the genetic profiles of more than 1 million Americans. The Houston-based company is granting access, but according to the report, the FBI will not be able to ‘freely browse’ the database. On one hand, the ability to access such data could help solve cases that long ago went cold. But privacy advocates will almost certainly warn against granting such access that is not compelled by a court order.
The cooperative effort between FamilyTreeDNA and the FBI began last fall, and news has reportedly caught most of their customers by surprise. That said, customers can opt out of the sharing of their DNA, but they will lose the ability to use the service to locate family members through the testing. So much for ‘informed consent’. Welcome to privacy in the 21st century. There’s not much of it left. After all, we’ve signed away lots of it, now haven’t we?