Shopper genomics firm Ancestry has confirmed it fought two U.S. regulation enforcement requests to entry its DNA database previously six months, however that neither request resulted in turning over buyer or DNA information.
The Utah-based firm disclosed the 2 requests in its latest transparency report masking the latter half of 2020. The report mentioned Ancestry “challenged each of those requests, which have been withdrawn,” and that the corporate “offered no information” on the time of the report, printed Tuesday.
Ancestry didn’t say which companies or police departments requested the DNA information or for what purpose the corporate challenged the request. Ancestry spokesperson Gina Spatafore confirmed the search warrants have been to acquire DNA information however declined to remark past what was within the report.
The corporate additionally mentioned in its most up-to-date report that it “refused quite a few inquiries” from U.S. regulation enforcement for failing to acquire the right authorized course of. The report additionally mentioned the corporate obtained 4 legitimate regulation enforcement requests, however that it didn’t present any information in response.
Ancestry has more than 3.6 million subscribers and has greater than 18 million buyer DNA profiles in its database, making it the biggest on the planet.
DNA profiling corporations like Ancestry are more and more widespread with prospects eager to study extra about their household heritage, their genetic markers, and to know their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. However as these DNA databases turn out to be bigger, they’re additionally attracting consideration from regulation enforcement who need entry to assist remedy crimes.
On its web site, Ancestry says: “We consider that the character of our members’ DNA information is especially delicate, so we insist on a courtroom order or search warrant because the minimal stage of due course of earlier than we’ll assessment our capacity to adjust to the request. We additionally search to place our members’ privateness first, so we additionally will attempt to reduce the scope and even invalidate the warrant earlier than complying.”
It’s not the primary time Ancestry has pushed again in opposition to a authorized demand. Final yr the corporate said it rejected an out-of-state search warrant, ordered by a courtroom in Pennsylvania, to “search entry” to its DNA database on the grounds that the warrant was “improperly served.”
It’s not unusual for corporations with massive quantities of buyer information to regularly obtain regulation enforcement calls for for consumer information — or for corporations to publish periodic transparency reviews that element the variety of authorized calls for they obtain.
To its credit score, Ancestry is one in every of solely two DNA profiling websites that publishes a transparency report. 23andMe also publishes the variety of information calls for it receives every quarter, however to this point has not launched any buyer information to regulation enforcement. FamilyDNA mentioned over a year ago that it was “engaged on publishing” a transparency report.
The transfer by Ancestry and 23andMe got here shortly after police used DNA profiling website GEDmatch to determine the DNA of a suspected serial killer, a breakthrough which later led to the arrest of the so-called Golden State Killer in 2018. GEDmatch mentioned it was “not approached by regulation enforcement” previous to the search. GEDmatch quickly after allowed its customers to opt-in for his or her DNA to be included in police searches.
Final yr, GEDmatch confirmed it was hit by two data breaches that made consumer profiles seen to different customers, together with regulation enforcement.