On a case-by-case basis, FamilyTreeDNA grants law enforcement and, in some cases, third parties working with law enforcement permission to upload a genetic file in an effort to help identify the remains of a deceased individual or a perpetrator of a homicide, abduction, or sexual assault. Permission is only granted after the required documentation is submitted, reviewed, and approved. For more information, please see our Law Enforcement Guide.
If you are opted in to Law Enforcement Matching, you will only show up in the matches list of a law enforcement user account if ALL of the following requirements are met:
- You are a DNA relative of the DNA file uploaded to the law enforcement user account
- Both you and the law enforcement user account have the same matching levels selected
If a law enforcement user account meets the above requirements, the information accessible to them will be identical to the information you’ve made accessible to your other matches. For more information, please see Information that is Shared with Matches.
Please note: If you opt out of Law Enforcement Matching, these accounts will not be able to see you as a match, but you will continue to see them as a match.
Cases where law enforcement is attempting to identify the remains of a deceased individual or a perpetrator of a sexual assault, homicide, or child abduction.
Any United States law enforcement agency wishing to utilize the Service for one of the purposes stated in the previous question may submit a formal request to submit a sample or upload a file. Law enforcement requests are reviewed for approval on a case-by-case basis and must meet the requirements set forth in our Law Enforcement Guide to be permitted to upload a file to the database for matching purposes.
Does or will FamilyTreeDNA work with agencies outside the United States, such as Canada, Mexico, Europe or other countries? What are the limitations?
We are not currently working with agencies outside of the United States. If the situation arises, we will evaluate the limitations and privacy laws governing the country in question as well as consult with our legal team and the Citizen’s Panel prior to making a decision.
Does FamilyTreeDNA have partnerships with other organizations, such as Bode Technology, that are working on behalf of law enforcement?
FamilyTreeDNA does not have partnerships with other organizations working on behalf of law enforcement. We have a fee for service relationship which is provided on a case-by-case basis. Third-party organizations that are legally authorized to work on behalf of law enforcement agencies may submit an application for the processing of a forensic sample or to upload a genetic file to the FamilyTreeDNA database. These accounts are classified as law enforcement user accounts and are submitted to the same guidelines and requirements we have set for law enforcement agencies. For more information, see our Law Enforcement Guide.
For a fee, the Gene by Gene lab will process forensic samples for law enforcement agencies or legally authorized third parties working on behalf of law enforcement agencies. On a case-by-case basis and only if all requirements are met, FamilyTreeDNA will create a law enforcement user account for each genetic file uploaded for law enforcement purposes. Law enforcement registered user accounts are given the same access as any other user participating in matching. For more information, see our Law Enforcement Guide.
No. For law enforcement, or their third parties, to obtain any further details about a match or user account beyond what they are currently given access to, they would need to submit a court-ordered search warrant or a subpoena.
Can law enforcement agencies or third parties working with them upload genetic files without our permission?
FamilyTreeDNA’s Terms of Service requires that law enforcement, or a legally authorized representative of law enforcement, register all DNA samples and genetic files prior to uploading to the FamilyTreeDNA database. All registration applications are subject to review and approval. Permission to use the Service is only granted after the required documentation is submitted, reviewed, and approved. Registration will include case-related information, i.e., sample type, case number, law enforcement agency, jurisdiction, investigator’s name, email, phone, city, and state. In the case of a legally authorized representative, there must be formal documentation of the relationship and authorization by the law enforcement agency on their letterhead. FamilyTreeDNA will track law enforcement samples to ensure they are marked as Law Enforcement (LE) for the benefit of those who opted out of law enforcement matching.
Exactly the same access as any other user and no more. Each genetic file uploaded for law enforcement purposes will receive a law enforcement registered user account.
Accounts created for law enforcement purposes will only show up in your matches list when ALL of the following requirements are met:
- You have not opted out of law enforcement matching
- You are a genetic relative to the uploaded genetic file
- You and the law enforcement user account have opted in to the same matching levels
No, law enforcement cannot see your address.
If you have law enforcement matching turned on and you are a DNA relative they will see the exact same profile information that your other matches see. For more information, see Information that is Shared with Matches.
What if law enforcement requests additional information about a DNA relative that is not provided to the standard user?
For law enforcement to obtain any further details about a match our user account beyond what they are currently given access to, they would need to submit a court-ordered search warrant or a subpoena.
To opt out of Law Enforcement Matching, go to the Privacy & Sharing section within your Account Settings. Users flagged as a resident of the EU whose account was created prior to March 12, 2019 are automatically opted out of law enforcement matching but have the ability to opt in by updating their Matching Preferences in their Account Settings.
If you opt out of Law Enforcement Matching, law enforcement registered accounts that are genetic relatives will not be able to see you as a match, but you will continue to see them as one.