Saturday, 2 February 2019

Do FamilyTreeDNA's new terms of service breach GDPR?

Following the news that FamilyTreeDNA ( has suddenly changed its terms of service, and announced that it is allowing the FBI access to its database for law enforcement purposes (see, the Legal Genealogist, Judy G. Russell, has posted a fairly damning critique of the news at

Noting that she has long been a fan of FamilyTreeDNA, Judy states that the development "may have brought that enthusiasm to a screeching halt". She adds that "At one time here in America, we thought that privacy existed whether or not our homes, papers or effects might contain evidence the police might be interested in — and whether or not we might have crime suspects in our family trees … or in our DNA match lists. Apparently, not any more."

In fact, there is quite a range of opinions in the comments following Judy's post, some for the development, some against, but one point of interest that has been raised is whether the new terms and conditions from FamilyTreeDNA in fact breach the new European wide GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) regulations, designed to give EU citizens more control over the use of their personal data.

Judy states "My own personal view is that changing these TOS in this fashion would not accord with the GDPR. It remains to be see what, if anything, the EU regulators will conclude."

GDPR was designed to strengthen the right to privacy. This is definitely one to watch.


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