This DNA Testing Firm Said it wanted to Bring Closure to Families of Murder Victims. Then It Blocked a Rival from Using Its Database to Solve Crimes.

An interesting story about competitive DNA firms may be found in an article by Peter Aldhous in the BuzzFeed News web site at:


I read the article and it is clear that there is probably a political component to this but not just the bit fed in that the FBI and the other search firm appeared to mention/thank FTD only in passing. Let me be clear, I am in favor of using DNA matching to find rapists, murders and identify bodies. However, as the article mentioned, there has been a lot of press and complaints about the testing companies allowing various police organizations to have access: 1st for not telling their customers they were doing this until after the information was sprung on the genealogy community and the several customer sets of the various “pay for testing” companies, and 2nd for then for not having “adequate” safeguards in place to protect their customers information. Yes, things have been modified such as allowing customers submitting their own (or others- within the guidelines of the various companies) to opt-out of letting police have access and other limitations.
I suspect that ONE of the reasons that FTDNA did not say yes to the submission that is the core of the article is that it came from the COMPANY that was doing the work (apparently as a consultant for the FBI but that isn’t defined) ….but nobody has mentioned a Subpoena being issued in favor of the FBI to FTDNA for the access. I am NOT an attorney. On the other hand, while FTDNA and others have made statements about cooperating with police to various extents (for customers who allow their samples of those they manage to be accessed by the police) the FORMAL law enforcement request, signed by a Judge of a Subpoena makes it both offical and legal, having followed the correct forms for search and the Judge has agreed that it is both legal, reasonable and nessesary based on the request and documentation provided to them. If nothing else, this protects the testing company because they have complied with a legal serving. It also eliminates somebody arguing that this was a frivolous search with no legal basis to have been done.
The need for a Subpoena might be “time consuming” and possibly delay both the analysis and the eventual identifacation of a POSSIBLE SUSPECT or a relative of theirs, but it is part of the safeguards built into our legal system.
The question that seems to arise in the article which could be construed as claiming that FTDNA was miffed at not being thanked for cooperation- or that they are not being mentioned at all when what is essentialy a competitor takes the credit and glory for this stuff with the law enforcement agency…and perhaps forgets to mention the source that then made it possible? They all need to get together and work that out or this kind of grabbing credit could lead to less cooperation.


    FTDNA – you are free to use the results of my DNA test. I don’t want to be responsible for a killer going free. DNA is no different than blood tests, fingerprinting, or eye identification, for that matter. Court orders properly issued must be complied with – we don’t want innocent people convicted or the guilty to go free. I don’t want to be responsible for innocently convicted serving prison terms, worse yet, executed for crimes they didn’t commit. Science moves forward, with or without our consent.


    I agree a company (Parabon) is not the same as a law enforcement agency so they were right to decline. I don’t think it was rivalry as the title infers, they are really in different markets.


Well, as soon as Parabon or whomever the company is, finds themselves implicated in the coverup of a mass murder the whole “we didn’t get credit for helping out” whine will take on another face. A testing laboratory, whether it be public or private, has an obligation to cooperate with a lawful … court sanctioned, request. Otherwise, it makes the lab complicit in a coverup. Can you spell conspirator?
Conspiracy to commit/cover up a crime, like murder, can put people in jail for a long, long time.


    Note that the genesis of this take on the situation comes from a Victim’s Advocate. It also raises the stakes in what sounds like a commercial, for profit, company which is acting as a PAID consultant for a law enforcement agency is complainiing that they want special treatment. The article said at attonrney for the FBI passed along the request for access. That is NOT the same as complying with the legal processes nessisary to gain access to the information. Ok, it also is set up to sound like the DNA testing company is miffed that they have not been given credit (other than in sort of in passing) for participating in the successful conclusion of a prior case. What this article is possibly threatening is that if the testing company object to LAW ENFORCEMENT not following the proper procedure to request the access, that the testing company will be charged with obstruction of justice……really good people, lets go right to thte really signifcant threats and public smear campaign. Note that the article doesn’t say that either the Consultant company nor the FBI employee followed the proper procedures, just that the FBI employee asked for the access on behalf of the consultant. Is there a requirement for a Warrent or Subpoena by the law enforcement agency to request this information? Sure, speed (all deliberate speed) is important in getting information and then analysing it to solve crimes, but that is not supposed to be used to eliminate any legal requirements or obligations on either side (the FBI or the testing company) in the handling of the matter.
    How about this: if there is/was the requirement of a warrant to be served to get the information and that was neither obtained or served, shouldn’t the evidence/information obtained be thrown out as inadmissible. At that point, don’t you expect (we all watch way too much TV) every defence attorney who had a client conviced on the basis of DNA results requested by the FBI or the consultant company will demand to see proof that proper legal procedures in the requesting of said information was followed–and that will cascade into a revaluation of every case involving DNA testing by a genealogy testing company by the consultant and at least that office of the FBI if not the entire organization.
    Perhaps somebody should charge the consultant and the FBI employee of under whatever statutes applicable for trying to aquire the information illegaly. Could be really intersting in fines, jail time, at least and serious impact on their careers? Just saying?


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