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Legal Issues - Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and Refunds

Family Tree DNA follows stringent policies for protecting your privacy according to state legislation guidelines. We control the Surname Database Library and genetic testing scores. Family Tree DNA only shares limited information with testing facilities. Family Tree DNA and our Genomics Research Center follow strict guidelines to ensure your privacy.

PLEASE READ THIS AGREEMENT CAREFULLY TO ENSURE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND EACH PROVISION. THIS AGREEMENT CONTAINS A MANDATORY ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES PROVISION THAT REQUIRES THE USE OF ARBITRATION ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS TO RESOLVE DISPUTES, RATHER THAN JURY TRIALS OR CLASS ACTIONS, AND ALSO LIMITS THE REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO YOU IN THE EVENT OF A DISPUTE.

This Agreement includes the acceptable use of the FamilyTreeDNA Website and its contents, and your rights, obligations and restrictions regarding your use. Please see below for more information about how we collect, use, and share information on the Website. Family Tree DNA may modify this Agreement at any time and such modification shall be effective upon posting on the Family Tree DNA Website. You agree to be bound to any changes to this Agreement when you use the Family Tree DNA Web site after any such modification is posted. It is therefore important that you review this Agreement regularly to ensure you are updated as to any changes. Your continued use of the Family Tree Website after any such change constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms of Use. If you do not agree to any of these terms or any future Terms of Use, do not use or access (or continue to access) the Family Tree DNA Website.

In addition to the PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT below, Family Tree DNA also adheres to the Genetic Genealogy Guidelines as proposed by the The Genetic Genealogy Standards Committee in January 2015.

In addition to the PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT below, Family Tree DNA also adheres to the following SAFE HARBOR PRIVACY STATEMENT in connection with the transfer and protection of "personal information" received from the European Union (EU) or Switzerland.

Family Tree DNA complies with the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework and the U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Framework as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information from European Union member countries and Switzerland. Family Tree DNA has certified that it adheres to the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles of notice, choice, onward transfer, security, data integrity, access, and enforcement. To learn more about the Safe Harbor program, and to view Family Tree DNA’s certification, please visit http://www.export.gov/safeharbor/

In compliance with the US-EU and US-Swiss Safe Harbor Principles, Family Tree DNA commits to resolve complaints about your privacy and our collection or use of your personal information. European Union or Swiss citizens with inquiries or complaints regarding this privacy policy should first contact Family Tree DNA by submitting an inquiry at our Contact Us form, with the word SAFEHARBOR in the subject line. Any correspondence without SAFEHARBOR in the subject line will not receive a response.

Family Tree DNA has further committed to refer unresolved privacy complaints under the US-EU and US-Swiss Safe Harbor Principles to an independent dispute resolution mechanism, the BBB EU SAFE HARBOR, operated by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. If you do not receive timely acknowledgment of your complaint, or if your complaint is not satisfactorily addressed by Family Tree DNA, please visit the BBB EU SAFE HARBOR web site at www.bbb.org/us/safe-harbor-complaints for more information and to file a complaint.

Family Tree DNA accepts the responsibility to keep your specific data private, at the same time, making enough general information public to allow us to build a Surname Database library usable for genealogical purposes.

To accomplish this Family Tree DNA allows you to do the following:

You may search the existing Surname Database Library to see if the surname you are searching is already there. If it is, you may order your DNA test kit and return to search to see that the database has increased under your surname. If the name you want to search is not there, you may order your test kit and then return to the database to see your surname registered.

Privacy and Confidentiality Statement

Family Tree DNA maintains strict privacy and confidentiality.

Your unique test kit number will accompany your collection tube to the testing lab. The computer-generated number and your surname are the only information about you that the testing facility will see. Once the lab completes your DNA test, Family Tree DNA enters the test results in a secure database. We then perform a comparison between your specific genetic results and those of others in the database.

If the matching program finds a genetic match between you and another person in the database, and you have each signed the release form Family Tree DNA will notify you via email.

If a genetic match is found between you and another individual who enters the library at some time in the future, both will be given the information that a potential match is in the database provided that BOTH of you have signed the release form. Only where both parties have signed the release form will we release contact information concerning the separate parties to the other party. In this way, all persons in the database will have the right to decide if they want to contact their genetic match(es).

For users that signed the release form, Family Tree DNA may show your ethnicity breakdown to your genetic matches. However, you can opt-out of sharing your ethnicity and keep your results private with only you and the administrators of projects to which you belong by modifying your privacy settings here.

Please read the Settings – Privacy & Sharing Page on our Learning Center for more information regarding your privacy settings and permissions.

3rd Party Payments and Account Access

If a person consents to testing that is paid for by another party, that person is consenting to allow that individual or group project access to their results and information, even if they order and pay for additional testing later. The purchaser of a test cannot deny access to the account and raw results of the test taker.

Should the test taker no longer want to allow the purchasing individual or group to have access their account, the test taker may reimburse the purchasing individual or group the full amount of the purchase price and return sole access of that account to test taker only. Once the test taker has provided documentation to Family Tree DNA that they have provided a full reimbursement of the purchase to the original payor, we will be able to return access to test taker alone. Please note that although a test taker may reclaim ownership of the record and DNA stored with Family Tree DNA, they cannot undo any prior data downloads or sharing outside of Family Tree DNA.

Beneficiary Information

The owner of an account is responsible for naming a beneficiary to that account, should the test taker pass away. If no beneficiary is named on the account, Family Tree DNA retains ownership of the record and DNA.

Project Participation

Family Tree DNA provides the option to participate in one or more projects. This may help you learn more by working with others who may share similar ancestry. If you choose to participate in a project, the project administrator will be able to view your results and contact information so that he or she may best help members of the project learn about their ancestry.

You can view a list of projects here.

While FTDNA has strict project administrator guidelines that requires administrators to abide by our Group Administrator Guidelines for FTDNA Projects, Family Tree DNA is not responsible for anything that the individual administrator does that is against those guidelines, other than admonishing or removing a group administrator from his or her role, if he or she is found to have breached or infringed on those guidelines.

Projects often have a public website displaying member results, so that members can share information more easily. Most groups will also have a member list that is available to members of the project, and includes name, email address, and haplogroups. You may opt out of this list by choosing the appropriate setting in your Privacy Settings. The free website that Family Tree DNA provides to projects may list member results by kit number. Results tables and maps on the free public website may include a participant’s oldest known ancestor, the ancestor’s country of origin, surname, and full name. Note that any changes you make to your permissions or privacy settings can experience a delay when updating on such public pages. You may wish to discuss what information will be available on the project’s website before joining a project.

You may join or leave projects at any time at no charge. Please note that any information or data downloaded by a group administrator for analysis cannot be retrieved and the project administrator may still have access to your downloaded results even after you have left a project.

It is important to note that while Family Tree DNA does not impose a limit to the number of projects one can join, we will not tolerate customers joining multiple projects with the purpose of data mining or finding information that is not relevant to one's personal ancestral origins. Family Tree DNA reserves the right to remove people from projects at our sole discretion or if it feels that a participant is abusing the system in a way that may infringe another participant's privacy.

The mtDNA full sequence test contains some genes in the coding region (CR). By default, these results are unavailable to the project administrators. You may choose to allow your project administrators to view your coding region results on the My Account – Results Display Settings page of your myFTDNA Account (personal page).

A "Relevant Match" as stated in the release form is one of the following:

Relevant Matches
Test Genetic Distance of Relevant Matches
Y-DNA 12 Exact Matches and (within a project) a genetic distance of 1
Y-DNA 25 0 through 2
Y-DNA 37 0 through 4
Y-DNA 67 0 through 7
Y-DNA 111 0 through 10
mtDNA Exact Matches
mtDNAPlus (HVR1 & HVR2) Exact Matches excluding positions 309 and 315
mtFull Sequence (HVR1, HVR2 & Coding Region) 0 through 3 including heteroplasmy, but excluding positions 309 and 315
Family Finder Persons sharing a certain amount of centimorgans, and listed under Family Finder matches


** Note: When a Y-Chromosome STR marker comparison differs by more than one, the matching program takes genetic distance rather than the number of mismatching markers into consideration. This is because for most STR markers, each step difference is as meaningful as mismatches on additional markers.



User Submitted Content

You retain ownership in Personal Information and content such as photos, videos, posts, and comments submitted by you (collectively, “User Submitted Content”) to Family Tree DNA and its websites. You hereby grant Family Tree DNA a world-wide, transferable, royalty-free, irrevocable, and perpetual license to host, display, sub-license, distribute, recreate, modify, or use such User Submitted Content in any form, to any extent, or within any context Family Tree DNA deems necessary to promote, modify, or develop its services. This license continues even if you stop using Family Tree DNA’s services.

Family Tree DNA maintains the right, in its sole discretion, to remove, edit, block, or refuse any User Submitted Content and disable access thereto for any reason, including without limitation that such User Generated Content violates the Terms of Service or is otherwise objectionable.

All User Submitted Content provided to Family Tree DNA and its websites is the sole responsibility of the person who submitted it. This means that you are entirely responsible for all User Submitted Content that you provide.

Privacy Document – Gene by Gene, Ltd.

Gene by Gene, Ltd (“Gene by Gene”) is in the business of providing DNA tests for genealogy, ancestry, medical, research and paternity.

Gene by Gene owns and runs its own lab, the Genomics Research Center in Houston, TX.

In addition, Gene by Gene owns and operates the websites GenebyGene.com, DNATraits.com, FamilyTreeDNA.com, DNAFindings.com and DNADTC.com ("Gene by Gene websites").

Purposes of this Document

This document is intended to explain how Gene by Gene manages the privacy of your personal data and other information that can be used to identify you, either alone or in combination with other information, including your DNA samples and test results (collectively, “Personal Information”).

We use your Personal Information to provide you with Gene by Gene services, customized reports and features. Customers of the different services provided by Gene by Gene are offered an opportunity to sign a Consent Form specific to each service which allows them to take full advantage of the services. In the absence of a specific Consent Form, this Privacy Document will prevail.

By using the Gene by Gene websites and the services offered, you consent to the collection, use, storage and disclosure of your Personal Information by Gene by Gene in accordance with this Privacy Document. It should be read in conjunction with the Gene by Gene Terms of Use and Gene by Gene Consent Agreement.

Our Commitment to You

Gene by Gene collects, processes, stores and shares your Personal Information in a responsible, transparent and secure environment that fosters our customers’ trust and confidence. To that end, Gene by Gene respects your privacy and will not sell or rent your Personal Information without your consent.

Please read this Gene by Gene Privacy Document and the relevant website FAQs or corresponding section for additional details.

Storage and Processing

When you provide us with any Personal Information, that Personal Information will be stored and processed at the Company’s Genomics Research Center in Houston, Texas. In the event that you are located outside the USA and still choose to order a DNA Test kit and provide a DNA sample, by providing us with Personal Information, you specifically consent to the transfer, storage and processing of Personal Information to and in the United States, which you recognize may provide a different level of protection for Personal Information and personal data than in your country of residence.

Security

Gene by Gene places great importance on the security of all of our customers’ User Submitted Content. We have reasonable and adequate security measures in place to attempt to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of customer data under our control.

For example, our security and privacy practices are periodically reviewed and enhanced as necessary and only authorized personnel have access to Personal Information. We use secure server software to encrypt financial information you input before it is sent to us and we only work with laboratories and third parties who have met and commit to our security standard. While we cannot guarantee that loss, misuse or alteration of data will not occur, we use commercially reasonable efforts to prevent this.

You submit to the following when using any Gene by Gene service, including Family Tree DNA and its other websites.

  1. You will not collect users’ contact information, genetic data, or any other content on the site through manual or automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without the prior explicit permission of Gene by Gene
  2. You will not post content that is protected by copyright or trademark or that does not belong to you and you do not have authorization to use from the owner of the copyright or trademark
  3. You will not post photos of living individuals (other than you or your minor children) without their consent
  4. You will not post content that is proprietary or confidential
  5. You will not post unauthorized commercial communication (spam)
  6. You will not engage in unlawful marketing on Gene by Gene websites, such as pyramid schemes
  7. You will not upload viruses or other malicious code
  8. You will not bully, harass, or intimidate other users
  9. You will not post content that is hate speech, threatening, pornographic, incites violence, or contains nudity or graphic violence
  10. You will follow all applicable laws if you publicize or offer contests, giveaways, or sweepstakes on Gene by Gene websites
  11. You will not use Gene by Gene or its services to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory
  12. You will not do anything that could disable, overburden, or impair the proper working or appearance of Gene by Gene or its websites, such as denial of service attacks or interference with page rendering or other functionality
  13. You will not encourage or aid other users in violating these terms
  14. You will not post links to 3rd party websites with content that violates these terms

Use and Disclosure of Personal Information

When you order an individual test online we primarily use your Personal Information to provide your test results, to verify and carry out financial transactions relating to payments you make online and to communicate with you.

Gene by Gene discloses your Personal Information to third parties in very limited circumstances as set out below.

  • To third party service providers, under the protection of appropriate agreements, so that the third parties may perform various tasks for us. For example, we use third parties to process payments from you. These third parties are only given access to that information needed to perform their services, and are prohibited from using it for other purposes. Processors may include affiliated and unaffiliated service providers in the United States, Europe and in other jurisdictions.
  • To the different Gene by Gene divisions, so that they may use Personal Information for the purposes described in this Privacy Document. Additionally, we might restructure, buy, or sell business units. In these transactions, customer information is often one of the transferred assets, remaining subject to promises made in then prevailing Privacy Documents. Also, in the event that Gene by Gene, or substantially all of its assets or stock, are acquired, transferred, disposed of (in whole or part and including in connection with any bankruptcy or similar proceedings), Personal Information including test results will as a matter of course be one of the transferred assets.
  • We may disclose your Personal Information
    • with your knowledge and any relevant permissions
    • as described in this Privacy Document
    • as may be required by law, regulatory authorities, legal process or to protect the rights or property of Gene by Gene or other Users (including outside your country of residence)
    • to enforce our terms and conditions
    • to protect our rights, privacy, safety, confidentiality, reputation or property, and/or that of Gene by Gene, you or others
    • to prevent fraud or cybercrime
    • to permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain.

Liability Disclaimer

ALL USER SUBMITTED CONTENT SHARED WITH OR THROUGH GENE BY GENE AND ITS SERVICES, INCLUDING FAMILY TREE DNA AND ITS OTHER WEBSITES, ARE SUBJECT TO THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF GENE BY GENE AND ITS WEBSITES. GENE BY GENE AND ITS SERVICES DO NOT ENDORSE OR ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY OR LIABILITY FOR ANY USER SUBMITTED CONTENT. ALL USER SUBMITTED CONTENT PROVIDED TO GENE BY GENE OR ITS WEBSITES IS THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PERSON WHO SUBMITTED IT. USERS MAY SUBMIT LINKS TO 3RD PARTY WEBSITES. GENE BY GENE AND ITS SERVICES DO NOT ENDORSE OR ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY OR LIABILITY FOR CONTENT, PRODUCTS, OR SERVICES AVAILABLE FROM THOSE SITES AND VIA THOSE LINKS.

WHERE PERMITTED BY LAW, GENE BY GENE AND ITS SERVICES WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR LOST PROFITS, REVENUE, OR DATA, FINANCIAL LOSSES OR INDIRECT, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.

TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THE TOTAL LIABILITY OF GENE BY GENE AND ITS SERVICES FOR ANY CLAIMS UNDER THESE TERMS, INCLUDING FOR ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES, IS LIMITED TO THE AMOUNT YOU PAID TO USE THE SERVICES.

IN ALL CASES, GENE BY GENE AND ITS SERVICES WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE, KNOWN OR UNKNOWN.

Non-Personal Information

When you visit our Gene by Gene websites, we may automatically collect non-personal information about you, such as the website from which you have come to our Gene by Gene websites, your Media Access Control address, your computer type, screen resolution, Operating System version and Internet browser. We may also collect non-personal information such as demographic data, for example your geographic area. Non-personal information also includes personal information that has been aggregated in a manner such that the end-product does not personally identify you or any other user of the Gene by Gene websites.

Additional Consent

Your use of any of Gene by Gene's services constitutes your consent to Gene by Gene allowing us to use your Personal Information for purposes of quality control and internal research and development activities.

Additionally, your consent will be sought for research purposes. Much of the genetic information resulting from DNA testing has not been clinically validated, and the technology we use, which is the same technology used by the research community, to date has not been widely used for clinical testing. For these reasons, our customers are encouraged to participate in Gene by Gene's research initiatives that may contribute to a better understanding of the results of genetic testing. Your participation in these initiatives is entirely voluntary and your DNA test results will not be used or disclosed without your consent. Once given, however, consent cannot be revoked.

We will ask for your consent in several ways. For example:

  1. A general consent document will be offered to you as part of your decision to participate in any of the Gene by Gene services offered by any of the websites owned and operated by Gene by Gene. Your consent will allow Gene By Gene to share your test results, anonymized and aggregated with those of others who have consented, with our third-party research partners for the purposes of general scientific research intended to lead to publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
  2. From time to time, we may ask for explicit consent to participate in specific research, and upon this consent we may allow our research partners to access your individual test results, which will be kept anonymous, for the purposes of general scientific research intended to lead to publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  3. From time to time, we may ask for explicit consent to participate in specific research, and upon this consent we may allow our research partners to access your individual test results, which will be kept anonymous, for the purposes of scientific research aimed at advancing genetic knowledge and creating, commercializing, or undertaking activities toward the practical applications that may lead to the improvement of health care.
  4. From time to time, we may ask for explicit consent to allow our research partners to access your non-anonymized individual test results in connection with a specific research project.

Research partners may include commercial or non-profit organizations that conduct or support population genetic studies, scientific/medical research, or the development of drugs or devices to diagnose, predict, or treat health conditions.

Changes

Gene by Gene may make changes to this Privacy Document from time to time. If we do so, we will issue an updated version of this Privacy Document with an updated date on the Gene by Gene Website (and/or notify you via email or by other appropriate means) so that you will be aware of what information we collect, how we use it and under what circumstances we disclose it in accordance with applicable law. If you do not consent to any changes to our Privacy Document, you may notify us at our Contact Us forms with the subject line PRIVACY DOCUMENT. At Gene by Gene’s option on a case-by-case basis, we will " either continue to apply the previous Privacy Document or delete your information and/or account.

Cancellations and Refunds

If the DNA testing you have ordered is cancelled prior to the sample being received at our office, a refund may be given, usually less a handling fee of $15 or 10% of the total order value, whichever is greater. We will not issue refunds on testing that is in process or completed, including transfers. Once a sample has been sent to our office and checked in, the full cost of the test is absolutely non-refundable.

If a new test is ordered on an existing kit, you will have a 24 hour window to make changes to the new order. After 24 hours, we are unable to change or refund your order, as processing will have already been started.

Delays in testing do not entitle customers to a refund since scientific procedures may be delayed for a variety of reasons. Testing times vary between products and may vary depending on lab volume and biological sample quality. Expected result dates are predictions and not a guarantee of delivery. We do not offer any assurances for specific results.

Please note that you must have internet access to view the results on our interactive website. Some items have downloadable and printable components, but many are designed solely for online interaction. Results will not be mailed, and we will not issue refunds for tests bought under the assumption that the results will be mailed.

Changing an Order

We can change tests ordered on a kit before a sample is returned to our office. Once a test has been checked in, we cannot change the order.

Test Failure Credits

If your testing fails and we do not have any remaining sample in storage, we will mail a new sample kit to the address we have on file. It is the responsibility of the person who orders a test or upgrade to confirm that the mailing address is current at the time of purchase and while the order is being processed. We will not send out a notification that a new collection kit has been sent.

MtDNA and Y-DNA Tests (Sanger and NextGen Sequencing)

If additional samples are not obtainable for tests run on Sanger and NextGen Sequencing (mtDNA Full Sequence, Y-DNA37, Y-DNA67, Y-DNA111, and BIG Y), Family Tree DNA may credit or refund, at its sole discretion, the cost of the test minus a $10 USD shipping and handling fee as well as a 25% lab processing fee for orders greater than $79 USD. We do not offer credits or refunds for products when the retail price of the order was equal to or less than $79 USD. This includes sale pricing.

Family Finder Tests (Microarray Chip Testing)

The Family Finder test uses a microarray chip that is sensitive to the quality of the DNA sample. As a result, our Family Finder testing and refund policy differs from our other tests. We limit Family Finder testing to two attempts. Almost all (98.5%) of Family Finder tests process successfully on the first attempt with a good quality customer swab. Should the first attempt fail, we rerun the test with a second, separate DNA extraction from the secondary sample in our office. If we do not have a secondary sample, a new sample kit will be sent. No refunds will be issued after failed testing if an additional sample is needed and is not obtainable.

The following refund policies apply:

  • For Family Finder tests purchased prior to the last 12 months or as an upgrade to a kit ordered over 12 months ago, if the secondary sample fails, you will be sent a new set of vials and swabs so that we can perform a new test for free.
  • For Family Finder tests purchased at the $99 US price point during the last 12 months, if the secondary sample fails, you will be contacted regarding the possibility of a third testing attempt with a new sample for a $50 US lab fee. The lab fee is charged due to the fact that, for samples that are less than one-year old, the test generally only fails because of the poor quality of the collection.

Arbitration of Disputes and Governing Law

Arbitration. In the unlikely event that Gene by Gene has not been able to resolve a dispute it has with you after attempting to do so informally, we each agree to resolve any claim, dispute, or controversy (excluding any Gene by Gene claims for injunctive or other equitable relief) arising out of or in connection with or relating to this Agreement, or the breach or alleged breach thereof (collectively, “Claims”), by binding arbitration by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) in the city of Houston, Texas under the commercial rules then in effect for the AAA, except as provided herein. The award rendered by the arbitrator shall include costs of arbitration, reasonable attorneys’ fees and reasonable costs for expert and other witnesses, and any judgment on the award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered in any court of competent jurisdiction. Nothing in this Section shall be deemed as preventing Gene by Gene from seeking injunctive or other equitable relief from the courts as necessary to protect any of Gene by Gene’s proprietary interests. ALL CLAIMS MUST BE BROUGHT IN THE PARTIES’ INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING. YOU AGREE THAT, BY ENTERING INTO THIS AGREEMENT, YOU AND GENE BY GENE ARE EACH WAIVING THE RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY OR TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION.

Disputes and Governing Law. You agree that: (i) the Services shall be deemed solely based in Texas; and (ii) the Services shall be deemed a passive one that does not give rise to personal jurisdiction over Gene by Gene, either specific or general, in jurisdictions other than Texas. This Agreement and any dispute regarding the Services shall be governed by the laws of the State of Texas, USA, without regard to conflict of law provisions and you agree to exclusive personal jurisdiction and venue in the state and federal courts of the United States located in the State of Texas, City of Houston for any actions for which we retain the right to seek injunctive or other equitable relief in a court of competent jurisdiction to prevent the actual or threatened infringement, misappropriation or violation of a our copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, patents, or other intellectual property or proprietary rights, as set forth in the Arbitration provision above.

Questions

If you have any questions about this Privacy Document, the practices of the Gene by Gene Website, or your dealings with the Gene by Gene Website, you can contact us by either calling 1-713-868-1438 or submitting an inquiry through our Contact Us form.