Driving the news: This month FamilyTreeDNA came under fire for voluntarily giving the FBI routine access to its database of more than 1 million users’ data, allowing agents to test DNA samples from crime scenes against customers’ genetic information to look for family matches.
FamilyTreeDNA apologized for not disclosing the agreement to consumers. The company told the NYT that users can disable the “matching” option to prevent their data from being visible. Ancestry.com and 23andMe say they require a warrant or subpoena before they consider turning over data to law enforcement.
It’s not the first time genetic data has been used in cold cases. To catch the Golden State Killer last year, police detectives compared crime scene DNA against publicly available genetic data to identify the suspect.
Drug makers also want access. Ancestry.com and 23andMe — the largest companies that, combined, have DNA data of 15 million users — both share anonymized genetic data with pharmaceutical companies.