The Reasons Why GEDmatch Recently Changed Its Terms of Service

GEDmatch is a popular genealogy web site that contains more than 1.2 million completed DNA kits. It was used by many genealogists and, more recently, by law enforcement officials, most of whom were working on “cold cases” involving violent crimes, such as rape and murder. Use of GEDmatch first helped solve the so-called Golden State Killer case last April through a new forensic technique known as genetic genealogy. That case was soon followed by a number of other identification of the perpetrators of past crimes.

However, there was one problem: GEDMatch’s own terms of service didn’t allow police to use the site for assault cases or any other crimes that involve less serious crimes. Even worse, legal issues arose because the site did not have the informed consent of its users to make an exception to the terms of service.

An explanation of the issues involved may be found in an article by Eric Levenson in the CNN web site at: https://cnn.it/2VTXxYW.

The article includes quotes from from several experts in genealogy, DNA, and the legal issues involved, including CeCe Moore (a genealogist who has helped law enforcement identify several criminals), Judy G. Russell (a trained genealogist with a legal degree), and Blaine Bettinger (a professional genealogist specializing in DNA evidence).

5 Comments

Geese who lay golden eggs are always killed.

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The CNN article is interesting. Thanks!
Near the end it says: “Rogers said he wishes he had given more warning before the sudden change to the terms of service. He said about 20,000 people have opted in to being searched by police, and he encouraged more people to do so.” But nowhere does it say what percentage that represents, or how many kits (total) are uploaded to GEDMATCH. Do you have any idea?

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    —> But nowhere does it say what percentage that represents, or how many kits (total) are uploaded to GEDMATCH. Do you have any idea?

    Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEDmatch states: “By May 2018, the GEDmatch database had 929,000 genetic profiles”

    Obviously, the number must be significantly higher now. I suspect it is now well over one million.

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Thanks so much! So if it is about 1 million (likely more, as you say), then looks like about about 2% have opted in. That affects Parabon and the police big time. Will be interesting to see what happens going forward.

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OOPS…Sorry–The first couple of sentences of the article say the database has about 1,200,000 kits. So that means about 1.6% have opted in.

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