DNA testing company admits to secretly sharing people's genetic data with FBI

Home Featured DNA testing company admits to secretly sharing people's genetic data with FBI

The president of FamilyTreeDNA, one of the US’ largest at-home genetic testing companies, has apologised to its users for failing to disclose that it was sharing DNA data with federal investigators working to solve violent crimes.

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 1 million records to the FBI and examine DNA samples in its laboratory to identify suspects and victims of unsolved rapes and murders.

FamilyTreeDNA confirmed the deal on Thursday, in a report by BuzzFeed News, setting off a backlash among its loyal users who felt betrayed and igniting another debate over privacy and ethical issues with investigators using genealogical sites to solve crimes.

In an email to its users on Sunday, the company’s president, Bennett Greenspan, defended the agreement with the FBI but apologised for not revealing it sooner.

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1/50 4 February 2019

Thousands of Hindu devotees take dips at Sangam, the confluence of three sacred rivers the Yamuna, the Ganges and the mythical Saraswati, on Mauni Amavsya or the new moon day, the most auspicious day during the Kumbh Mela or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh state, India. The Kumbh Mela is a series of ritual baths by Hindu sadhus, or holy men, and other pilgrims at Sangam that dates back to at least medieval times. Pilgrims bathe in the river believing it cleanses them of their sins and ends their process of reincarnation. The event, which UNESCO added to its list of intangible human heritage in 2017, is the largest congregation of pilgrims on earth. Some 150 million people are expected to attend this year’s Kumbh, which runs through early March

AP

2/50 3 February 2019

Tom Brady celebrates after New England Patriots won Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

USA TODAY Sports

3/50 2 February 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido waves to supporters during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela

Reuters

4/50 1 February 2019

Palestinians perform Friday prayers as smoke rises from burning tires during a protest against Jewish settlements, in al-Mughayyir village near Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank

AFP/Getty

5/50 31 January 2019

Ice covers the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago, US. Businesses and schools have closed, Amtrak has suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights have been cancelled and mail delivery has been suspended as the city copes with record-setting low temperatures

Getty

6/50 30 January 2019

Man moves luggage in snow during a winter storm in Buffalo, New York

Reuters

7/50 29 January 2019

Firemen try to extinguish burning cars at the scene where a car bomb exploded in front of a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia

Reuters

8/50 28 January 2019

A tornado and pounding rains smashed into the eastern part of Cuba’s capital overnight, toppling trees, bending power poles and flinging shards of metal roofing through the air as the storm cut a path of destruction across eastern Havana

AP

9/50 27 January 2019

Policemen and soldiers keep watch as body bags (in white), containing the remains of blast victims, as seen in a cordoned area outside a church in Jolo, Sulu province on the southern island of Mindanao. At least 18 people were killed when two bombs hit a church on a southern Philippine island that is a stronghold of Islamist militants, days after voters backed the creation of a new Muslim autonomous region

AFP/Getty

10/50 26 January 2019

Aerial view showing firemen looking for people in heavy machinery (L and R) and a locomotive (C) after the collapse of a dam which belonged to Brazil’s giant mining company Vale, near the town of Brumadinho in southeastern Brazil

AFP/Getty

11/50 25 January 2019

Indian police personnel block unemployed Indian teachers, as they march towards the residence of Punjab Education Minister Om Parkash Soni during a protest against the Punjab state government to demand jobs in Amritsar

AFP/Getty

12/50 24 January 2019

Supporters of newly elected President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi cheer as they arrive to attend his Presidential Inauguration in Kinshasa. Tshisekedi took the oath of office before receiving the national flag and a copy of the constitution from outgoing president Joseph Kabila, stepping aside after 18 years at the helm of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country, marking the country’s first-ever peaceful handover of power after chaotic and bitterly-disputed elections

AFP/Getty

13/50 23 January 2019

Demonstrators hold a huge banner reading ‘Madrid’s taxi demands that the law has to be enforced’ as drivers protest outside IFEMA Convention and Congress Center, against the regulation of ride-hailing and car-sharing services such as Uber and Cabify

EPA

14/50 22 January 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands after signing a French-German friendship treaty in the town hall of Aachen, western Germany. France and Germany signed a new friendship treaty seeking to boost an alliance at the heart of the European Union as Britain bows out and nationalism advances around the continent

AFP/Getty

15/50 21 January 2019

Target of a suicide bombing claimed by Isis, a military vehicle from a US-Kurdish convoy burns at the roadside in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province. Five people were killed and two US soldiers injured

AFP/Getty

16/50 20 January 2019

Protesters take part in a demonstration near the Greek Parliament against the agreement with Skopje to rename neighbouring country Macedonia as the Republic of North Macedonia, in Athens. The proposal faces resistance in Greece because of what critics see as the implied claims to Greek land and cultural heritage. For most Greeks, Macedonia is the name of their history-rich northern province made famous by Alexander the Great’s conquests

AFP/Getty

17/50 19 January 2019

A man, injured during clashes with French police, is given help during a demonstration in Paris, called by the yellow vests (gilets jaunes) movement in a row of nationwide protest for the tenth consecutive Saturday against high cost of living, government tax reforms and for more “social and economic justice.”

AFP/Getty

18/50 18 January 2019

Palestinian women from the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, scuffle with Israeli soldiers as they try to release a boy from their custody, during clashes following a weekly demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian lands by Israel

AFP/Getty

19/50 17 January 2019

Three people have been injured in a massive explosion on the roof of a La Doua university building in Lyon, France

AFP/Getty

20/50 16 January 2019

Sri Lanka’s Special Task Force members perform during their passing out parade in Kalutara

Reuters

21/50 15 January 2019

Cars are seen on fire at the scene where explosions and gunshots were heard at the Dusit hotel compound, in Nairobi, Kenya

Reuters

22/50 14 January 2019

Emergency workers and people near the wreckage of a Boeing 707 military cargo plane which crashed on the west of the Iranian capital, near Fath airport. At least 15 people were killed

Tasnim News Agency/Reuters

23/50 13 January 2019

Thousands of people march during a demonstration organized by the citizen’s network Sare, which is calling for an immediate end to the dispersal policy and the violation of rights suffered by ETA prisoners in Bilbao, Spain.

Getty

24/50 12 January 2019

Firefighters extinguish a fire after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris

AFP/Getty

25/50 11 January 2019

Workers shovel snow out of a restaurant after an avalanche at Santis-Schwaegalp mountain resort, in Switzerland

Reuters

26/50 10 January 2019

Supporters of Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections; celebrate along the streets of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Reuters

27/50 9 January 2019

Philippine Coast Guards keep watch as Roman Catholic devotees cross the bridge in a raucous procession of the Black Nazarene to celebrate its feast day in Manila. Tens of thousands of mostly barefoot Filipino Catholics joined the annual procession of a centuries-old statue of Jesus Christ to celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene which usually ends before dawn the next day

AP

28/50 8 January 2019

A car trapped in snowdrifts in southeastern Poland. Many cities in whole Poland have been affected by snowfall

EPA

29/50 7 January 2019

Actor Kevin Spacey pleaded non-guilty to sexual assault charge at Nantucket District Court in Massachusetts. The Oscar-winning actor is accused of groping the teenage son of a former Boston TV anchor in 2016 in a crowded bar at the Club Car in Nantucket

Reuters

30/50 6 January 2019

A gentoo penguin is seen during a promotional event during an annual ice festival in the northern city of Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China

Reuters

31/50 5 January 2019

Snow covers the statue of Alexander the Great at the seaside promenade of Thessaloniki, Greece

Reuters

32/50 4 January 2019

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a commercial market in Jalalabad, Afghanistan

Reuters

33/50 3 January 2019

AFP/Getty

34/50 2 January 2019

Two men walk past a damaged cargo train after an accident in Nyborg, Denmark. Several people were killed in the crash on a bridge connecting two islands in Denmark, police said

AFP/Getty

35/50 1 January 2019

Emergency officers transporting a baby survivor after a gas explosion rocked a residential building in Russia’s Urals city of Magnitogorsk. Russian rescuers have been forced to temporarily halt the search for dozens of missing people in the rubble of a collapsed high-rise apartment block as the building risked crumbling further, officials said, with the incident claiming at least seven lives. Part of the 10-storey building collapsed following a gas explosion on the morning of December 31, in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk, east of Moscow in the Ural mountains

Russian Emergency Situations Ministry/AFP/Getty

36/50 31 December 2018

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney

AP

37/50 30 December 2018

Bangladeshi army personnel drive a military vehicle through a street adorned with election posters near a polling station in Dhaka. Bangladesh headed to the polls following a weeks-long campaign that was dominated by deadly violence and allegations of a crackdown on thousands of opposition activists.

AFP/Getty

38/50 29 December 2018

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli speaks to journalists as he arrives at the hospital where Vietnamese victims of an attack on a tourist bus where taken, in Al-Haram district in the Egyptian capital Cairo’s western twin city of Giza. – Three Vietnamese holidaymakers and an Egyptian tour guide were killed on December 28 when a roadside bomb blast hit their bus as it travelled close to the Giza pyramids outside Cairo, officials said.

AFP/Getty

39/50 28 December 2018

Bright blue light is seen after a transformer explosion at an electric power station in the New York City borough of Queens

Reuters

40/50 27 December 2018

The Opal Tower at Sydney Olympic Park, Australia. Residents of the tower have been told to leave for a second time in four days to enable the company and investigators to conduct a ‘comprehensive investigation’ into a crack on the tenth floor of the building. Emergency services were called on the afternoon of the 24 December after residents of the building had heard cracking sounds throughout the morning

EPA

41/50 26 December 2018

A young man dressed in a Father Christmas suit distributes gifts to children in the old city of Mosul

AFP/Getty

42/50 25 December 2018

A participant in a Santa Claus costume jumps into the water during the 109th edition of the ‘Copa Nadal’ (Christmas Cup) swimming competition in Barcelona’s Port Vell. The traditional 200-meter Christmas swimming race gathered more than 300 participants on Barcelona’s old harbour

AFP/Getty

43/50 24 December 2018

US President Donald Trump speaks on the telephone as he answers calls from people calling into the NORAD Santa tracker phone line in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington

AFP/Getty

44/50 23 December 2018

An aerial photo shows damaged buildings in Carita after the area was hit by a tsunami on December 22 following an eruption of the Anak Krakatoa volcano. The volcano-triggered tsunami has left at least 222 people dead and hundreds more injured after slamming without warning into beaches around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait. Officials voiced fears that the toll was set to rise

AFP/Getty

45/50 22 December 2018

Protesters wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune) stand next to a burning barricade as they demonstrate against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes at the A9 highway toll of Le Boulou, southern France. The “Yellow Vests” (Gilets Jaunes) movement in France originally started as a protest about planned fuel hikes but has morphed into a mass protest against President’s policies and top-down style of governing

AFP/Getty

46/50 21 December 2018

A Palestinian man wearing a Santa Claus outfit hands a flower to man in a wheelchair during a demonstration near the border between Israel and Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip

AFP/Getty

47/50 20 December 2018

Moroccan authorities investigate the scene of the grisly murder of two Scandinavian women at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The suspects in the killings have pledged alleigance to ISIS

AP

48/50 19 December 2018

Supporters of Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Martin Fayulu gesture number four (the candidate number on the electoral list) as they protest in Kinshasa after campaigning was called off by the authorities on security grounds

Getty

49/50 17 December 2018

Pyongyang residents prepare to lay flowers at the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il during National Memorial Day on Mansu Hill. North Korea is marking the seventh anniversary of the death of Kim Jong II

AFP/Getty

50/50 16 December 2018

Firefighters work on site where a large explosion occurred at a restaurant in Sapporo. According to local media reports, an explosion that triggered a fire occurred at a restaurant in Sapporo in the evening of 16 December. At least 20 people have been reported injured and taken to hospitals.

EPA

1/50 4 February 2019

Thousands of Hindu devotees take dips at Sangam, the confluence of three sacred rivers the Yamuna, the Ganges and the mythical Saraswati, on Mauni Amavsya or the new moon day, the most auspicious day during the Kumbh Mela or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh state, India. The Kumbh Mela is a series of ritual baths by Hindu sadhus, or holy men, and other pilgrims at Sangam that dates back to at least medieval times. Pilgrims bathe in the river believing it cleanses them of their sins and ends their process of reincarnation. The event, which UNESCO added to its list of intangible human heritage in 2017, is the largest congregation of pilgrims on earth. Some 150 million people are expected to attend this year’s Kumbh, which runs through early March

AP

2/50 3 February 2019

Tom Brady celebrates after New England Patriots won Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

USA TODAY Sports

3/50 2 February 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido waves to supporters during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela

Reuters

4/50 1 February 2019

Palestinians perform Friday prayers as smoke rises from burning tires during a protest against Jewish settlements, in al-Mughayyir village near Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank

AFP/Getty

5/50 31 January 2019

Ice covers the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago, US. Businesses and schools have closed, Amtrak has suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights have been cancelled and mail delivery has been suspended as the city copes with record-setting low temperatures

Getty

6/50 30 January 2019

Man moves luggage in snow during a winter storm in Buffalo, New York

Reuters

7/50 29 January 2019

Firemen try to extinguish burning cars at the scene where a car bomb exploded in front of a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia

Reuters

8/50 28 January 2019

A tornado and pounding rains smashed into the eastern part of Cuba’s capital overnight, toppling trees, bending power poles and flinging shards of metal roofing through the air as the storm cut a path of destruction across eastern Havana

AP

9/50 27 January 2019

Policemen and soldiers keep watch as body bags (in white), containing the remains of blast victims, as seen in a cordoned area outside a church in Jolo, Sulu province on the southern island of Mindanao. At least 18 people were killed when two bombs hit a church on a southern Philippine island that is a stronghold of Islamist militants, days after voters backed the creation of a new Muslim autonomous region

AFP/Getty

10/50 26 January 2019

Aerial view showing firemen looking for people in heavy machinery (L and R) and a locomotive (C) after the collapse of a dam which belonged to Brazil’s giant mining company Vale, near the town of Brumadinho in southeastern Brazil

AFP/Getty

11/50 25 January 2019

Indian police personnel block unemployed Indian teachers, as they march towards the residence of Punjab Education Minister Om Parkash Soni during a protest against the Punjab state government to demand jobs in Amritsar

AFP/Getty

12/50 24 January 2019

Supporters of newly elected President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi cheer as they arrive to attend his Presidential Inauguration in Kinshasa. Tshisekedi took the oath of office before receiving the national flag and a copy of the constitution from outgoing president Joseph Kabila, stepping aside after 18 years at the helm of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country, marking the country’s first-ever peaceful handover of power after chaotic and bitterly-disputed elections

AFP/Getty

13/50 23 January 2019

Demonstrators hold a huge banner reading ‘Madrid’s taxi demands that the law has to be enforced’ as drivers protest outside IFEMA Convention and Congress Center, against the regulation of ride-hailing and car-sharing services such as Uber and Cabify

EPA

14/50 22 January 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands after signing a French-German friendship treaty in the town hall of Aachen, western Germany. France and Germany signed a new friendship treaty seeking to boost an alliance at the heart of the European Union as Britain bows out and nationalism advances around the continent

AFP/Getty

15/50 21 January 2019

Target of a suicide bombing claimed by Isis, a military vehicle from a US-Kurdish convoy burns at the roadside in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province. Five people were killed and two US soldiers injured

AFP/Getty

16/50 20 January 2019

Protesters take part in a demonstration near the Greek Parliament against the agreement with Skopje to rename neighbouring country Macedonia as the Republic of North Macedonia, in Athens. The proposal faces resistance in Greece because of what critics see as the implied claims to Greek land and cultural heritage. For most Greeks, Macedonia is the name of their history-rich northern province made famous by Alexander the Great’s conquests

AFP/Getty

17/50 19 January 2019

A man, injured during clashes with French police, is given help during a demonstration in Paris, called by the yellow vests (gilets jaunes) movement in a row of nationwide protest for the tenth consecutive Saturday against high cost of living, government tax reforms and for more “social and economic justice.”

AFP/Getty

18/50 18 January 2019

Palestinian women from the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, scuffle with Israeli soldiers as they try to release a boy from their custody, during clashes following a weekly demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian lands by Israel

AFP/Getty

19/50 17 January 2019

Three people have been injured in a massive explosion on the roof of a La Doua university building in Lyon, France

AFP/Getty

20/50 16 January 2019

Sri Lanka’s Special Task Force members perform during their passing out parade in Kalutara

Reuters

21/50 15 January 2019

Cars are seen on fire at the scene where explosions and gunshots were heard at the Dusit hotel compound, in Nairobi, Kenya

Reuters

22/50 14 January 2019

Emergency workers and people near the wreckage of a Boeing 707 military cargo plane which crashed on the west of the Iranian capital, near Fath airport. At least 15 people were killed

Tasnim News Agency/Reuters

23/50 13 January 2019

Thousands of people march during a demonstration organized by the citizen’s network Sare, which is calling for an immediate end to the dispersal policy and the violation of rights suffered by ETA prisoners in Bilbao, Spain.

Getty

24/50 12 January 2019

Firefighters extinguish a fire after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris

AFP/Getty

25/50 11 January 2019

Workers shovel snow out of a restaurant after an avalanche at Santis-Schwaegalp mountain resort, in Switzerland

Reuters

26/50 10 January 2019

Supporters of Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Congolese main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress who was announced as the winner of the presidential elections; celebrate along the streets of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Reuters

27/50 9 January 2019

Philippine Coast Guards keep watch as Roman Catholic devotees cross the bridge in a raucous procession of the Black Nazarene to celebrate its feast day in Manila. Tens of thousands of mostly barefoot Filipino Catholics joined the annual procession of a centuries-old statue of Jesus Christ to celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene which usually ends before dawn the next day

AP

28/50 8 January 2019

A car trapped in snowdrifts in southeastern Poland. Many cities in whole Poland have been affected by snowfall

EPA

29/50 7 January 2019

Actor Kevin Spacey pleaded non-guilty to sexual assault charge at Nantucket District Court in Massachusetts. The Oscar-winning actor is accused of groping the teenage son of a former Boston TV anchor in 2016 in a crowded bar at the Club Car in Nantucket

Reuters

30/50 6 January 2019

A gentoo penguin is seen during a promotional event during an annual ice festival in the northern city of Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China

Reuters

31/50 5 January 2019

Snow covers the statue of Alexander the Great at the seaside promenade of Thessaloniki, Greece

Reuters

32/50 4 January 2019

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a commercial market in Jalalabad, Afghanistan

Reuters

33/50 3 January 2019

AFP/Getty

34/50 2 January 2019

Two men walk past a damaged cargo train after an accident in Nyborg, Denmark. Several people were killed in the crash on a bridge connecting two islands in Denmark, police said

AFP/Getty

35/50 1 January 2019

Emergency officers transporting a baby survivor after a gas explosion rocked a residential building in Russia’s Urals city of Magnitogorsk. Russian rescuers have been forced to temporarily halt the search for dozens of missing people in the rubble of a collapsed high-rise apartment block as the building risked crumbling further, officials said, with the incident claiming at least seven lives. Part of the 10-storey building collapsed following a gas explosion on the morning of December 31, in the industrial city of Magnitogorsk, east of Moscow in the Ural mountains

Russian Emergency Situations Ministry/AFP/Getty

36/50 31 December 2018

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney

AP

37/50 30 December 2018

Bangladeshi army personnel drive a military vehicle through a street adorned with election posters near a polling station in Dhaka. Bangladesh headed to the polls following a weeks-long campaign that was dominated by deadly violence and allegations of a crackdown on thousands of opposition activists.

AFP/Getty

38/50 29 December 2018

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli speaks to journalists as he arrives at the hospital where Vietnamese victims of an attack on a tourist bus where taken, in Al-Haram district in the Egyptian capital Cairo’s western twin city of Giza. – Three Vietnamese holidaymakers and an Egyptian tour guide were killed on December 28 when a roadside bomb blast hit their bus as it travelled close to the Giza pyramids outside Cairo, officials said.

AFP/Getty

39/50 28 December 2018

Bright blue light is seen after a transformer explosion at an electric power station in the New York City borough of Queens

Reuters

40/50 27 December 2018

The Opal Tower at Sydney Olympic Park, Australia. Residents of the tower have been told to leave for a second time in four days to enable the company and investigators to conduct a ‘comprehensive investigation’ into a crack on the tenth floor of the building. Emergency services were called on the afternoon of the 24 December after residents of the building had heard cracking sounds throughout the morning

EPA

41/50 26 December 2018

A young man dressed in a Father Christmas suit distributes gifts to children in the old city of Mosul

AFP/Getty

42/50 25 December 2018

A participant in a Santa Claus costume jumps into the water during the 109th edition of the ‘Copa Nadal’ (Christmas Cup) swimming competition in Barcelona’s Port Vell. The traditional 200-meter Christmas swimming race gathered more than 300 participants on Barcelona’s old harbour

AFP/Getty

43/50 24 December 2018

US President Donald Trump speaks on the telephone as he answers calls from people calling into the NORAD Santa tracker phone line in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington

AFP/Getty

44/50 23 December 2018

An aerial photo shows damaged buildings in Carita after the area was hit by a tsunami on December 22 following an eruption of the Anak Krakatoa volcano. The volcano-triggered tsunami has left at least 222 people dead and hundreds more injured after slamming without warning into beaches around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait. Officials voiced fears that the toll was set to rise

AFP/Getty

45/50 22 December 2018

Protesters wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune) stand next to a burning barricade as they demonstrate against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes at the A9 highway toll of Le Boulou, southern France. The “Yellow Vests” (Gilets Jaunes) movement in France originally started as a protest about planned fuel hikes but has morphed into a mass protest against President’s policies and top-down style of governing

AFP/Getty

46/50 21 December 2018

A Palestinian man wearing a Santa Claus outfit hands a flower to man in a wheelchair during a demonstration near the border between Israel and Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip

AFP/Getty

47/50 20 December 2018

Moroccan authorities investigate the scene of the grisly murder of two Scandinavian women at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The suspects in the killings have pledged alleigance to ISIS

AP

48/50 19 December 2018

Supporters of Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Martin Fayulu gesture number four (the candidate number on the electoral list) as they protest in Kinshasa after campaigning was called off by the authorities on security grounds

Getty

49/50 17 December 2018

Pyongyang residents prepare to lay flowers at the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il during National Memorial Day on Mansu Hill. North Korea is marking the seventh anniversary of the death of Kim Jong II

AFP/Getty

50/50 16 December 2018

Firefighters work on site where a large explosion occurred at a restaurant in Sapporo. According to local media reports, an explosion that triggered a fire occurred at a restaurant in Sapporo in the evening of 16 December. At least 20 people have been reported injured and taken to hospitals.

EPA

“I am genuinely sorry for not having handled our communications with you as we should have,” Mr 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.”

The news underscored the lack of universal regulations governing direct-to-consumer genetic testing in the United States and how companies can use their data without consumers’ knowledge.

“It’s a good example of, are you willing to stay abreast of every terms of service change with FamilyTreeDNA, or are you doing it once because it was a holiday present?” Erin E Murphy, a professor at New York University School of Law who wrote the book Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA, said in an interview.

“Even if you were reading all of your spam email about all the privacy changes, did you get one that says you have agreed to be the FBI’s testing lab? No, they did not issue that,” Ms Murphy said.

Alan Butler, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, described the situation as “’bait and switch’ behaviour that consumer protection laws are meant to prohibit.”

“The company needs to either roll back the change or else delete all stored DNA data it has collected from individuals under the previous agreement,” Mr Butler said.

Consumer DNA tests have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, with major sites like Ancestry.com and 23andMe offering personalised ancestry reports and tools to find possible relatives. They have also become useful tools for law enforcement agencies, helping detectives solve high-profile cases such as the Golden State Killer last year.

While investigators have used open-source sites such as GEDmatch, which is free, to find DNA matches and possible relatives, the arrangement with FamilyTreeDNA includes the first known commercial site to provide some services without a subpoena or warrant.

According to FamilyTreeDNA, the FBI will have access to its website like any other user: after uploading a person’s DNA file, investigators can search for potential relatives with overlapping DNA. Detectives will have access to the same repository of genealogical records as all users, the company said.

In addition, the company’s genetic testing laboratory, Gene by Gene, has agreed to create data profiles from DNA samples provided by the FBI, which can then be plugged into other family history sites. The company said on its website that the FBI would need a subpoena to gain access to information not already available on its website.

The company has not disclosed how many cases it has worked on, but Mr Greenspan said in the email to users it was “a handful of DNA samples for cold cases from the FBI”. A company spokesperson did not respond to a list of questions sent on Monday.

The FBI declined to comment.

After BuzzFeed reported on the arrangement, genealogists revolted. Some discussed creating a petition to encourage FamilyTreeDNA to reverse its decision, while others threatened to delete their profiles.

“Not being upfront about what it wanted to do and quietly changing its terms with no notice to current customers is a big ‘no no,’” Rachel King, founder of Toll Genealogy, a resource for genealogists, said in an email. “At the end of the day, this is valuable work. Anything that helps put a name to unidentified body, potentially enabling their loved ones to finally know what happened to them, is a good thing.”

The New York Times

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