Why Are Folks Still Using GEDMatch?!?

Is your data still there? If so, seriously consider why you should remove it.

I’ve been warning about this for more than three years.

Of note in this article:

“On January 14, a technical snafu at GEDmatch caused previously deleted user data to be restored for two days. It’s the second security incident the database has experienced in less than a year. In July 2020, hackers accessed the database and exposed more than a million users’ profiles.

GEDmatch users have to give permission for their profiles to be used in law enforcement searches, but the breach overrode whatever privacy settings users had selected and made their profiles temporarily visible to all other users, including police. It’s not known what the hackers were after.

Verogen, the San Diego-based forensic genomics company that owns GEDmatch, told Future Human that the latest incident wasn’t a data breach or a hack. “There was a minor technical issue when we recently made an update to the GEDmatch database,” a company spokesperson said in an email, adding that only a small number of users were affected. While DNA files — what the company calls “kits” — briefly reappeared in some users’ accounts, the data wasn’t compromised in any way.”

And it gets worse:

“In another recent development, GEDmatch quietly changed its terms of service and privacy policy this month. Effective January 11, law enforcement can use the entire database of 1.5 million DNA profiles — rather than just the 350,000 who have opted in — to search for matches to unidentified remains. Users still have to opt in if they want to make their profiles available to law police investigations seeking to identify suspects of certain violent crimes.

This may not seem like a big deal. Many people would agree that identifying John and Jane Does is a worthy cause. On Facebook, the DNA Doe Project, a California nonprofit that seeks to put names to anonymous remains, praised the move.

But the change takes away some amount of consent from its users in how their data can be used by police. Now, users don’t have a choice in whether their profiles can be used in these cases, which include unidentified newborn remains. In these cases, the babies’ mothers are often the perpetrator, and police typically identify the mother in order to identify the baby. Thus, the case becomes a suspect case. In December, [this article’s author] wrote about the ethical complexities of these cases, which usually involve women and girls who are unmarried, scared, and without the resources to care for a child. Some users may not want their DNA data being used to arrest a distant family member accused of such a crime.”

Sharing my personal experiences, again, here:

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