Saturday, 25 May 2019

GEDMatch site now requires opt-in for law enforcement use

This is quite a biggie that I missed earlier in the week. GEDMatch (https://www.gedmatch.com), which offers a facility to match your DNA results with those of potential cousins, has changed its terms and conditions to protect the right of privacy to a user's data, by requiring users to give consent for law enforcement agencies to use their results to help solve crimes - something for which there has been a lot of criticism in recent months with the big DNA platforms. You'll find more on the story at Judy G. Russell's blog at https://www.legalgenealogist.com/2019/05/19/gedmatch-reverses-course/.

I have just signed in to my account, and have been presented with a page noting the revised T&Cs, which I must accept as having been read to continue to gain access (I can accept the terms, reject them, or have a think about it, with no access granted until I do accept). The major change involves the new four categories of data now available on the site, described as follows:

There are 4 classes of DNA data on this Site: 'Private', 'Research', 'Public + opt-in' and 'Public + opt-out'. You may be asked to select which category you want to be in when you upload your DNA data. If you ever want to change the category, use the pencil icon link next to the kit number on your home page.

'Private' DNA data is not available for comparisons with other people. It may be usable in some utilities that do not depend on comparisons with other DNA.

'Public + opt-in' DNA data is available for comparison to any Raw Data in the GEDmatch database using the various tools provided for that purpose.

'Public + opt-out' DNA data is available for comparison to any Raw Data in the GEDmatch database, except DNA kits identified as being uploaded for Law Enforcement purposes.

Comparison results, including your kit number, name (or alias), and email will be displayed for 'Public' kits that share DNA with the kit being used to make the comparison, except that kits identified as being uploaded for Law Enforcement purposes will only be matched with kits that have 'opted-in'.
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'Research' DNA data is available for one-to-one comparison to other Public or Research DNA. It is not shown in other people's 'one-to-many' results lists. The Raw Data that you uploaded is not made available.

I have accepted the terms, and am now in 'opt-out' mode by default until I decide otherwise. As Judy notes in her article, "The new system fully conforms to all legal definitions of informed consent".

I noticed this morning a tweet from Debbie Kennett, stating "In the first 48 hours since everyone in GEDmatch was opted out just 10,000 people people opted back in", linking to an article at https://www.forensicmag.com/news/2019/05/forensic-genealogy-where-does-cold-case-breakthrough-technique-go-after-gedmatch-announcement.

(With thanks to Judy G. Russell and @DebbieKennett)

Chris

Pre-order Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet (2nd ed) for just £11.99 at https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tracing-Your-Irish-Family-History-on-the-Internet-Paperback/p/16483. Details of my genealogical research service are available at www.ScotlandsGreatestStory.co.uk. Further news published daily on The GENES Blog Facebook page, and on Twitter @genesblog.

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