Saturday, March 19, 2016

Family Tree DNA and GEDMatch

I've used Family Tree DNA for all genetic testing I've had done or recommended. I also upload my data to GEDMatch to expand my search for genetic cousins. Now, it appears the two organizations are in a spat. It's become a he-said/she-said argument but neither has publicly stated what the problem is. All we know for certain is that Family Tree DNA says that data uploaded to GEDMatch compromises the privacy of Family Tree DNA customers. GEDMatch says that Family Tree DNA has threatened legal action. Family Tree DNA has said (sort of) that they didn't threaten legal action. GEDMatch says that Family Tree DNA demanded that uploads of FTDNA kits to GEDMatch be suspended. Family Tree DNA says that they were surprised that GEDMatch suspended the uploads unilaterally. However, in the same and other statements, Family Tree DNA says they requested that uploads be suspended. Based on the fact that Family Tree DNA has issued conflicting statements, I'm believing what GEDMatch is telling us.

Now, what is the source of the problem? No one knows for certain. Family Tree DNA member forums speculate it has something to do with FTDNA kit numbers being publicly available on GEDMatch. However, neither side has stated this is the case. In face, GEDMatch has stated that Family Tree DNA has demanded that they not state a reason for suspending the uploads. GEDMatch has also stated that their only option MAY be to completely remove all Family Tree DNA kit data.

To me, this sounds like a couple of kids, complaining to Mom and Dad (us, their customers and users), that the other started it. We need a grown-up involved in this argument. Bring the disagreement out into the open and let the experts discuss the matter. Let users decide for themselves who to believe and whether or not to upload their data to GEDMatch.

My view is that it is up to me whether or not to upload my Family Tree DNA data to GEDMatch. It's not up to Family Tree DNA. If I have a problem with privacy there, I won't upload it.

I had thought that Family Tree DNA was the adult in the genetic testing realm, given the problems we've heard from 23andMe and Ancestry DNA. Sadly, it seems this is not the case. For the time being, I am suspending my recommendation to have your genetic testing done with FTDNA. I am hopeful that I'll be able to recommend them again in the future.


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