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US government wants DNA information gathered by genealogy service


Popular genealogy website, along with a similar site,, uses clients’ DNA to trace their health history, family tree and other characteristics. DNA is like a fingerprint — it is exclusive to each person.

And now Uncle Sam wants it.

As reported by writer Kashmir Hill of Fusion, when the two companies first invited customers curious about their past to send in DNA samples for genealogy tracing and medical diagnostic testing, privacy advocates sounded the alarm over the creation of humongous databases that will undoubtedly become enticing to the federal government and even local law enforcement. DNA, of course, can be used to solve crimes (or absolve those who have been falsely accused).

Such databases would have “serious information about you and your family,” Jeremy Gruber, a genetic privacy advocate, told Hill about five years ago when the sites and the services they offered began to get popular.

Now, both sites have more than a million customers, and such warnings are looking prophetic. As Wired reported recently, “your relative’s DNA could turn you into a suspect,” as proven by a case in which New Orleans filmmaker Michael Usry was turned into a suspect over an unsolved murder case using semen collected in 1996.