By Mac Slavo
The at-home DNA testing company, FamilyTreeDNA has admitted to giving DNA samples to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation.) Although the company apologized for failing to disclose the fact that they were sharing DNA with the FBI, customers are still rightfully angry at the privacy violations and abuse.
As the government attempts to track and treat every single citizen as a criminal, they use “the greater good” as an excuse to force at home DNA companies to give them samples from people. If it’s to solve a murder, it’s OK, right? Not if you want privacy and seek to protect the privacy rights of others, it’s not.
FamilyTreeDNA was caught in a bold lie proving they don’t care about your privacy. According to The New York Times, in the booming business of consumer DNA testing and genealogy, FamilyTreeDNA had marketed itself as a leader of consumer privacy and a fierce protector of user data, refusing, unlike some of its competitors, to sell information to third parties. But unbeknownst to its users, the Houston-based firm quietly and voluntarily agreed in 2018 to open its database of more than two million records to the FBI and examine DNA samples in its laboratory to identify suspects and victims of unsolved rapes and murders.
Regardless of how the DNA was used, the idea that a private company willingly gave citizens DNA to the government was too much for most. FamilyTreeDNA confirmed that they were violating their own privacy promise on Thursday. In a report by Buzzfeed News, where the confirmation was first noted, there was a significant backlash among FamilyTreeDNA’s loyal users who felt betrayed and this betrayal ignited yet another debate over privacy and ethical issues with investigators using genealogical sites to solve crimes.
The company’s president, Bennett Greenspan, wrote an email to users on Sunday. In the email, Greenspan defended the agreement with the FBI but apologized for not revealing it sooner. “I am genuinely sorry for not having handled our communications with you as we should have,” Greenspan wrote, according to a copy of the email obtained by The New York Times. “We’ve received an incredible amount of support from those of you who believe this is an opportunity for honest, law-abiding citizens to help catch bad guys and bring closure to devastated families.”
It’s also an absolute privacy violation and non-consensual one at that, especially considering FamilyTreeDNA, who vowed privacy from the get-go, isn’t even apologizing for their bald-faced lie that they are a “leader of consumer privacy and a fierce protector of user data.”
“For the greater good”:
the phrase that always precedes
the greatest evil.” ― Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski