The announcement shook the world of genetic genealogy. GEDmatch, the independent genetic database, has been acquired by Verogen, a commercial company. Who are Verogen? Should we be concerned about our genetic data? What are the possible consequences and how can you protect yourself? All the answers are in the article below.
GEDmatch, an independent database
You have done a genetic genealogy test in one of the four major laboratories currently operating: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA orMyHeritage. And very quickly, if you're looking for genetic cousins, you've been faced with a dilemma. Each laboratory has a profile of its customers. But how do you know if your genetic cousin is in this or that lab? Maybe the one that unlocks your genealogy has done a test in another of the three labs, where your data isn't stored. As a result, you will either have to try to juggle transfers, a little cheaper, or put money aside to do a genetic test in each of the laboratories.
Secure connection to Gedmatch, the genetic database purchased by Verogen
GEDmatch has overcome this constraint by offering the possibility to download your raw genetic data file from those laboratories in order to find customers using other laboritories, and all for free.
In addition to enabling you to find genetic cousins, Gedmatch provides free comparisons, DNA analysis, ethnic analysis and subscription access to high-performance genealogical genetics tools.
Gedmatch now has 1.5 million genetic profiles worldwide. Thousands of new members are joining every day.
Verogen, unknown to genetic genealogy
If you are registered on Gedmatch, you will have received an email informing you of the aquisition.
The first reflex will be to go and check Verogen's profile. Rémy Dumont Fillon, an experienced genealogist interested in new genealogical research tools, has investigated for us. Here's their official presentation : Verogen serves those who seek the truth using genetic tools. The aim is to advance massive parallel sequencing to help unlock the true potential of forensic genomics. To support laboratories with innovative solutions and expert services specifically designed to meet the challenges of human identification. And ultimately, improve public security and global justice for all.
Moreover, their website states that Verogen also work with the FBI.
On the Verogen page dedicated to the GEDmatch takeover, they announce that they will open a dialogue with users on GEDmatch's Facebook page. Their official ambition is to improve genetic genealogy by making powerful new tools available (that's what they claim) in the future.
Can we trust them with information as sensitive as our genetic data?
FBI, Cold cases and DNA databases
In recent months, the press has reported the resolution of Cold Cases, popularised by an American television series. GEDmatch and FamilyTree DNA were directly involved, both of whom subsequently adjusted their terms and conditions.
The FBI used these two databases to create a genetic profile of victims or murderers whose identities were unknown by carrying out genetic genealogy work: finding the genetic cousins and establishing family ties to the owner of the DNA in question.
This was done discreetly and anonymously, without specifying the owner of the DNA, victim or murderer. The other users contacted thought they were talking to a relative, while they were speaking to the FBI.
In two years, from May 2018 to the present day, this identification technique on GEDmatch has led to the arrest of 78 perpetrators of murder or rape and the identification of 11 unknown victims.
Email from GEDmatch informing users of the "FBI Access" option or not!
FamilyTree DNA announced they were taking moral stand. They believe it is legitimate to help solve crimes, or to help families know the unfortunate fate of their family members. GEDmatch then changed its settings by informing its users. We had the choice, by checking or unchecking a red X box, to let the FBI visualise our data or not.
GEDmatch: stay or leave?
You already know my major concern about the protection of genetic data, oh how sensitive personal data. Genetic genealogy tests are not medical genetic tests, but potentially provide access to medical information.
In this case, Verogen's interest seems to be more directly or indirectly focused on synergy with their core business related to legal medical genetic testing for police services.
It is clear that we have the choice of 4 different profiles, including a "Public Opt out" to benefit from all the features of GEDmatch, but prohibiting the police services from accessing them. By default, when registering for new users, the profile is private, which means that no one can see it for a genetic cousin comparison use, which can only be used for other features such as ethnic analysis.
The 3 options to now access GEDmatch after their purchase by Veroge
If you are already registered, by logging on to the site, you now have, after reading in English their terms and conditions, three options: Accept, Refuse or decide later. If you agree to the terms and conditions, you will have access to GEDmatch and the choice of 4 profiles, if you refuse, your account and your genetic data will be immediately deleted, if you decide later, you decide later without being able to access the features of GEDmatch.
In my book on DNA, a genealogical tool, I was already alerting you by instructing you to transfer your data only using an email created and dedicated specifically to GEDmatch, without indicating any personal information to identify you as your true identity, date of birth or other.
I can supplement today by recommending that you do not respond to the emails of your genetic cousins by also giving personal information or participating in "publicly" forums.
If you want to further enhance your anonymity, use software like Chrome (which keeps your IP address confidential) or even better Tor Brower allowing you to browse anonymously without being able to be identified. And don't take any membership subscriptions, since you'll have to pay by an identifiable payment method.
But now, let's face it, we're getting closer to paranoia.
On GEDmatch, the chosen option is directly visible next to your kit and can be changed on accessible settings by clicking on the penc
So what's the point of downloading our genetic data to find our genetic cousins at these sites?
We face the same problems as any genetic genealogy laboratory: can we trust them with our genetic data?
Are these companies reliable and honest, do they respect their own terms and conditions? If these terms and conditions are not respected or if they use our genetic data in a sense that is dangerous to our individual freedoms, what are our remedies?
The only way for us is for French legislation to recognize the said genetic genealogy tests, carried out every year for at least 19 years by 100,000 French people a year, or at least 1.5 million French people.
It should be noted, however, that even if genetic genealogy tests were legalized in France by the Senate, for which we have some hope after the hearing of December 10, 2019, GEDmatch would still remain outside any French legal field of protection.
As Rémy Dumont Fillon points out, the Verogen-Gedmatch site is located in San Diego, California, which means that the data is kept "ad vitam aeternam" without recourse possible, according to the legislation of this state! We must also take into account the fundamental freedoms of his own descendants! If the search for criminals is laudable in itself, it must not be done without the knowledge of the amateur genealogist who risks, out of naivety or ignorance, being confronted with unpleasant situations. Gedmatch informs, everyone is free to choose in good knowledge.
We must trust U.S. law and especially U.S. citizens directly concerned to defend the protection of our genetic genealogical data.
Verogen assures that GEDmatch will continue to offer the same services with data protection by the RGPD
However, Verogen assures compliance with the RGPD, General Regulation on the Protection of Personal Data, established by the European Union, and today the best guarantor of protection by transferring data management to Verogen.
On the next screen, you will still have 3 choices as a European citizen, accept the transfer of data protection to Verogen, delete your data or delay your decision until December 9, 2020 (your data is no longer accessible).
To date, the potentially emerging risk is that of the FBI's identification of rapists and murderers.
So if you, or a family member, are affected by this particular case, run away from all public or commercial genetic databases.
Otherwise, by following all OF GEDmatch's safety guidelines and setting options, you will be able to continue using this service.
Here are the general conditions of GEDmatch below, in French, thanks to Rémy Dumont Fillon always (a big thank you).
Revised December 9, 2019
As of December 9, 2019, GEDmatch has been operated by Verogen, Inc. ("Verogen") following Verogen's acquisition of GEDmatch's website.
GeDmatch information collection and use
When you register on GEDmatch, we collect your name, an optional pseudonym and an email address to process your registration. Once you are registered, you can provide other personal information such as your gender, your YDNA or MtDNA haplogroup, your genetic sequence/information, your genealogical data and/or Level 1 payment information. GEDmatch will only collect your personal information if you voluntarily provide it to us. If you are located outside the United States, you consent to the storage, processing and transfer of your personal information outside your country.
In addition, we automatically collect certain information about visitors to our site, including IP address, equipment information, navigational actions and usage patterns. The information we collect automatically is statistical data and does not include personal information. We only use this information for internal purposes, for example to improve our Site.
Our Site can use third-party tools to help us understand, overall, the age, gender and interests of site visitors. These tools do not reveal your name or other identifying information to GEDmatch. GEDmatch does not combine the information collected using these tools with identifiable personal information. The information received from these tools is used only to improve our site and the type of information posted to visitors to the site so that we can better serve those who are interested in GEDmatch.
GEDmatch offers you the opportunity to participate in forums that are designed to be visible to other users, including comments and messages. You should be aware that any identifiable personal information that you choose to submit through these forums can be read, collected and used by other participants and could be used to send you unsolicited messages. We are not responsible for the personally identifiable information you choose to submit when you engage in such activities.
We may disclose your raw data, personal information and/or genealogical data if necessary to comply with a legal obligation such as a subpoena or warrant. We will try to notify you of this disclosure of your raw data, personal information and/or genealogical data, unless prohibited by law.
GEDmatch's products and services are not intended for children under the age of 13. GEDmatch does not knowingly collect information from children. If we learn that we have collected or received personal information from a child under the age of 13 without verification of parental consent, we will delete that information.
GEDmatch exists to provide DNA and genealogy tools for comparison and research purposes. It is fully supported by users, volunteers and researchers. By its very nature, research on DNA and genealogy requires the sharing of information. For this reason, users participating in this Site agree that their information is shared with other users.
Raw DNA data provided to GEDmatch
When you download raw data from GEDmatch, you agree that the raw data is one of:
The DNA of a person of whom you are the legal guardian;
The DNA of a person who gave you specific permission to download their DNA on GEDmatch;
The DNA of a person you know has died;
DNA obtained and authorized by the police to identify the perpetrator of a violent crime against another person, where "violent crime" is defined as murder, non-negligent manslaughter, aggravated rape, robbery or aggravated assault;
DNA obtained and authorized by law enforcement to identify the remains of a deceased person;
An artificial DNA kit (if and only if: (1) it is intended for research purposes; and (2) it is not used to identify anyone in the GEDmatch database); Yes
DNA obtained from an artifact (if and only if: (1) you have reasonable grounds to believe that the raw data is from the DNA of an owner or previous user of the artifact rather than a living individual; and (2) that you know that the previous owner or user of the artifact has died).
By signing up for GEDmatch and using the Site, you agree not to download raw data that does not meet any of these categories. If you have already downloaded raw data that does not meet any of these categories, you hereafter agree to delete it immediately.
GEDmatch will not be responsible for the raw data provided to GEDmatch in violation of this policy. Violators of this policy will have their raw data or other personal information deleted without notice, their access will be blocked and/or other corrective action may be taken, including any legal action authorized by law.
Although you can provide a real name for recording and downloading data, you have the option to provide an alias for login or data. If an alias has been provided, it will be displayed in place of the real name with the results. If your DNA is linked to your genealogical data and one or the other uses an alias, it is possible for users to see the real name in the related data.
In today's world, there are real dangers of identity theft, credit fraud, etc. We try to strike a balance between these conflicting realities and the need to share information with other users. Ultimately, if you need absolute confidentiality and security, you agree not to provide your personal information, raw data or genealogical data to GEDmatch. If you disagree and have already provided your personal information, raw data or genealogical data, you agree to delete it immediately.
Although GEDmatch has strived to create a secure and reliable site for you, the confidentiality of any communication, material or personal information provided to GEDmatch via the site or by email cannot be guaranteed.
The original raw DNA and GEDCOM data you provide to GEDmatch is not preserved in their original form. It is converted into a form that allows the software to search and compare more efficiently. Genealogical data is loaded into a relational database that can still be recognizable as text. Raw DNA is converted into a compressed binary format in what we call 'tokenization'. Although raw DNA is not encrypted in the usual sense, it would be very difficult for a human to read it. The original downloaded files are removed from the Site's servers shortly after they are processed and archived.
We encrypt your login password before putting it in our database. We can't say what your password is. However, there have been cases of hacking and decoding encrypted data in the news. Be aware that this may be a possibility on this Site or on any other Site. We take steps to ensure that only registered users have access to your results, but these measures have not been and will never be perfect. GEDmatch staff, including volunteers, have direct access to your data as needed to know.
Information such as raw data, genealogical data and profile information can be stored as an archive copy as part of a backup or restoration plan. When a registered GEDmatch user deletes or requests the removal of raw data, genealogical data and/or profile information, copies of that information stored in an archive copy will be deleted when storing an updated archive copy, no later than 30 days after the user's request.
We can use your data in our own research to develop or improve applications.
Anyone who registers on the Site must provide a valid email address for the main contact. It provides a login check and allows GEDmatch to contact them if necessary. It also provides a mechanism to verify your identity if you want to contact GEDmatch. You agree to keep your login information in a safe place and keep your email address up to date.
Your email address and name (or alias, if any) will be displayed as well as any correspondence with your raw or genealogical data. For this purpose, some users obtain an email address separate from their main email address.
You understand that any registered GEDmatch user using the tools available on the Site can access the email address you provide.
Information on Level 1 payments
You can voluntarily gain access to Level 1 tools on the Site for the amount shown (subject to changes). You can make a one-time payment of any monthly amount, or you can use a "Monthly Renewal of Automobile Insurance" to establish a recurring amount. Instructions for cancelling a recurring payment are available in the GEDmatch Wiki. Payments can be made via PayPal, and GEDmatch is not responsible for the following information provided to GEDmatch by PayPal. Payments can also be made by personal check to Verogen, Inc., to: Tom Mohr, 11111 Flintkote Avenue, San Diego, CA 92121. You understand that your personal account information will be made available to Verogen when you pay by personal check.
GEDCOMs (family trees) or other genealogies ('genealogical data') provided to GEDmatch remain the property of the person who downloaded them. When you download your genealogical data, you will receive a unique identification number for this GEDCOM. If you want your genealogical data removed from the Site, you can do so yourself by clicking on the 'Manage Your Resources' link on your homepage. If you need help removing a genealogical data, contact the site administrator at email@example.com
Genealogical research requires the exchange of information. For this reason, all genealogical data provided to GEDmatch can be accessed, searched and compared by any GEDmatch user.
Unless you have the permission of the living people in your genealogical data, you agree to privatize living people in your genealogical data before providing them to GEDmatch. It is usually a matter of changing the names of living people to "LIVE" or something similar.
We take steps to prevent your genealogical data from being accessible to the casual Internet user or search engines (p. e.g. Google). However, we cannot guarantee that your information will never be accessible to anyone other than GEDmatch users. If you need absolute security, you agree not to upload your genealogical data to GEDmatch. If you've already downloaded it, you agree to delete it immediately.
You will have the opportunity to link your genealogical data to your genetic data. It is a powerful tool and we encourage people to use it. It also provides access to your genealogical data for people who may not have genealogical data at GEDmatch. It will also allow the identification of individuals in the genealogical data provided, even if these individuals are not identified in the genealogical data.
The raw DNA data uploaded to GEDmatch.com ("raw data") remains the property of the person who downloaded it. When you download a file, you will be assigned a kit number at the end of the download process.
This number is unique to individual DNA downloading, and will be used on the pages of this Site to identify your data, including being provided to anyone who shares DNA with raw data.
If you want to contact the site administrator about your data, you must provide the kit number associated with your data.
A link or other means are provided in your GEDmatch account to remove your raw data from the Site. You can also request the removal of your personal information at any time.
by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org It is possible that an old kit number will be reassigned to data downloaded by another user in the future if you delete your raw data.
No means is provided on the Site to make raw DNA or other DNA data available for download.
There are 4 categories of genetic data on this site: Private," "Research," "Public – opt-in" and "Public – opt-out." You may be asked to choose the category you want to be in when you download your genetic data. If you want to change the category, use the pen icon link next to the kit number on your homepage.
"Private" genetic data are not available for comparisons with other people. It can be used in some utilities that do not depend on comparisons with other DNA.
The public OPT-in DNA data is available for comparison with all raw data in the GEDmatch database using the various tools provided for this purpose.
"Public – opt-out" genetic data is available to compare with all raw data in the GEDmatch database, with the exception of DNA kits identified as having been downloaded for law enforcement purposes.
The results of the comparison, including your kit number, name (or pseudonym) and email address, will be displayed for "public" kits that share DNA with the tool used to make the comparison, except that kits identified as having been downloaded for law enforcement purposes will only be matched to the kits that have "agreed" to participate.
Genetic "research" data are available for individual comparison with other public or research genetic data. It does not appear in the "one-to-many" results lists of other people. The raw data you downloaded is not available.
By default, your raw data is not accessible to any site user – not even you. However, you understand that anyone with the kit number for raw data can perform several or all of the same GEDmatch functions with this raw data that the provider of this raw data can perform.
There may be options where you can join a "sharing pool" that has the potential to disclose additional information about you or your data. If you choose to join a sharing pool, you should carefully read the conditions and warnings associated with this sharing pool. By joining the sharing pool, you agree to comply with these conditions and denials of responsibility.
Using the results
The nature of genealogical research requires the exchange of information. This use must also be tempered by respect for the rights and privacy of others. Anyone using this Site in a manner that does not conform to this principle of human decency will be subject to an immediate ban and all data will be deleted. Examples include, but are not limited to, mailing lists or the publication of other people's results or personal information without their permission. This principle also applies to related and unrelated persons included in genealogical data or other data uploaded to this site. The determination of any violation of this principle will be at the sole discretion of geDmatch's directors.
Although the results presented on this site are intended solely for genealogical research, we cannot guarantee that users will not find other uses, including current and new genealogical and non-genealogical uses. For example, some of these possible uses of raw data, personal information and/or genealogical data by any registered GEDmatch user include, but are not limited to:
Discovering identity, even if there is an alias, an unidentifiable email address and other obscuring information;
Find genetic matches (individuals who share DNA);
Paternity and maternity tests;
Discovery of unknown or unidentified children, parents or siblings;
Discovering other genetic and genealogical parents, including known and unknown or unexpected genetic and genealogical parents;
Discovery of ethnicity;
Discovery of a genetic relationship between parents;
Discovery of biological sex;
Discovery of medical information or physical traits;
Get an email address Or
Family searches carried out by third parties, such as law enforcement agencies, to identify the perpetrator of a crime or to identify human remains.
You understand that future genealogical and non-genealogical uses can be developed, including uses that GEDmatch cannot predict or predict. If you find any of these current or future uses unacceptable, do not provide raw data to GEDmatch and delete all of your raw data already provided on this site. Our policy is never to provide your genealogical data, raw DNA, personal information or email address to third parties, except as stated here.
You have the right to access the personal information that GEDmatch has collected about you. You can do the following at any time by contacting us at email@example.com
Opt out of any future contacts on our part;
See what information, if any, we have about you.
Edit, correct or ask us to delete any information we have about you (including personal information, raw data and genealogical data); And
Express any concerns you may have about our use of your personal information.
Accuracy of results
The analysis and comparison results presented on this Site are provided "as is" and no representation is made as to their accuracy or ease of use. Changes in software and analytics tools may be made from time to time, which could change the results from those previously provided. We make no promises about this: (a) the functionality of the Site or the Site's tools; or (b) the quality, accuracy, reliability or availability of the Site, including any personal, raw data or genealogical data provided to the Site. Any confidence you place in the information found on the Site is strictly at your own risk. We do not accept any responsibility for the trust that you and any other visitor to the site, as well as anyone who may be informed of its content, give to this information. The operators of this site are not responsible for the consequences of using the information provided on this site.
Cessation of service
Anyone who wants their raw or genealogical data provided to be removed from the GEDmatch database can do so using the deletion/delete link or any other means provided in your account. GEDmatch. You can also request the removal of your personal information at any time by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org
GEDmatch administrators reserve the right to remove any raw data, genealogical data or personal information from the database for any reason, at any time, with or without notice. All or part of GEDmatch.com services may be terminated at any time, without notice, for any reason, solely at the discretion of GEDmatch's directors.
Cookies can be used by this Site to allow certain privacy and login functions. A cookie is a small file placed on your computer. You can delete cookies from your computer at any time or avoid cookies by setting up your browser to reject them or notify you when a cookie is placed on your computer.
GEDmatch operators will not be held responsible for the loss of raw data, whether as a result of a mechanical failure, software malfunction, human error or any other means.
We cannot predict what the future holds for DNA or genealogy research. We cannot predict what GEDmatch's future will be. In the future, GEDmatch may merge with other individuals or entities or transfer its activities to other individuals or entities. If this happens, GEDmatch's operating staff will change. GEDmatch reserves the right to provide access to your data (including raw data, genealogical data, profile information and other personal information) to these other individuals or entities, which may include individuals who are not currently involved in GEDmatch's activities. This policy will continue to apply to the site until you are notified of the policy changes. If this option is not suitable for you, you agree not to provide your personal information, raw data or genealogical data to GEDmatch. If you have already provided personal information, raw data or genealogical data, you agree to delete it immediately from GEDmatch.
Limitation of liability
GEDmatch has no responsibility to you under this policy, being understood and agreed that the site is provided solely for your convenience. If the aforementioned limitation of liability proves unenforceable, GEDmatch's liability to you for any cause of action arising from the Site or under this Policy will be limited to any amount paid by you to GEDmatch for the Site in the twelve (12) months prior to this cause of action. Notwithstanding any contrary provision herein, this policy does not limit or exclude liability of either party in the event of gross negligence or intentional misconduct by a party or its agents or employees, or death or bodily harm. The parties agree that the limitations and disclaimers of this policy have been freely negotiated and are an integral part of the agreement, in the sense that the site would not have been available at the same price and on the same terms and conditions if these limitations and disclaimers had not been included in this policy. Some states or jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of certain guarantees, so some of the above limitations may not apply to you. In addition, some jurisdictions prohibit exclusion or limitation of liability for indirect or incidental damages, so the above limitations may not apply to you.
You agree to compensate, to defend and retain GEDmatch and its respective affiliates, their successors and rights holders, as well as their officers, directors, employees, volunteers, contractors, consultants, agents, representatives, licensees, advertisers, suppliers and service providers, covered by any liability, loss, claim and expense, including reasonable fees of lawyers, related to your violation of this Policy or the use of the Site. We reserve the right, at our own expense, to assume exclusive defence and control of any matter otherwise subject to compensation by you, in which case you will cooperate with us to assert any available defence.
Updates on this policy
Verogen Inc. is incorporated in the State of Delaware, USA
Attn as Tom Mohr
11111 Flintkote Avenue
San Diego, CA 92121