What You’re Unwrapping When You Get a DNA Test for Christmas

It recently became clear, however, that no one on the site is fully protected from law enforcement searches. When the judge in Florida granted a detective a warrant to search the full database, that included nearly a million profiles of people who had chosen not to help police. This search warrant applies only to this case, but could encourage other detectives to request similar warrants.

Just last week, a forensic company purchased GEDmatch. The move delivers dueling messages about the site’s future. The new owner, Verogen, said that it would actively fight future search warrants and that users can still opt out of helping police. But Verogen is also a company that has built its business, so far, on catering to law enforcement.

2.5 million DNA profiles

Like the others, FamilyTreeDNA wants to help connect you with your family history. But unlike most other such companies, it actively welcomes law enforcement uploads. The company offers a variety of packages for police departments, including one that comes with a genetic genealogist who works for the site to help authorities parse their results and potentially solve a crime.

(Barbara Rae-Venter, who helped crack the Golden State Killer case is the director of this new unit. Read more about her here.)

Yes. If you join the site without modifying the settings, you are agreeing to help law enforcement officials identify DNA from crime scenes. If you opt out or are based in Europe, however, you will not appear in search results for police officers who follow the rules.

FamilyTreeDNA has created a highly unusual vetting system for each formal law enforcement request. Connie Bormans, the company’s lab director, reviews the details of each case. “If it meets the criteria, then we’ll say O.K., this is a good candidate; we’ll send you all the paperwork we need.” Recently, for example, she denied a missing person request from a law enforcement agency that wasn’t technically an abduction, she said.

2.5 million DNA profiles

MyHeritage exists primarily to help people find relatives and build out family trees. Recently, the company also began offering health risk reports.

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