Ancestry DNA: Buyer Beware

If you had your DNA (or a relative’s DNA) tested through, did you read the complete terms of service and privacy policy?

If not, you probably didn’t realize that you signed over the rights to your DNA to Ancestry, not only for the rest of your life, but they continue to hold those rights after you die.

According to its privacy policies, takes ownership of your DNA forever. Your ownership of your DNA, on the other hand, is limited in years. (1)

Ancestry DNA promises to use the latest autosomal testing techology to analyze your DNA and help identify relationships with unknown relatives through a dynamic list of DNA matches. Part of your DNA is identical to your relatives. When they identify your relatives’ DNA, they are also collecting bits and pieces of your DNA. So even if you haven’t had your DNA tested through Ancestry, they may already have enough bits and pieces of your DNA to identify you from other relative’s results.

Also because of the process your DNA goes through during the testing, they hold more parts of your DNA than they reveal to you in your test results.

Genetic Data is broader than just the results delivered to you when you use the AncestryDNA test and includes a range of DNA markers such as those associated with your health or other conditions.” In short, holds genetic data that reveals your health and other conditions.(2)

If you look deep within the Terms of Service, under the Informed Consent section, you will read this warning from Ancestry:

It is possible that information about you or a genetic relative could be revealed, such as that you or a relative are carriers of a particular disease. That information could be used by insurers to deny you insurance coverage, by law enforcement agencies to identify you or your relatives, and in some places, the data could be used by employers to deny employment.

The author calls this a “massive red flag.” Think it doesn’t really make any difference? That it’s hype about the future? It’s already happened to people who’ve had insurance cancelled due to health problems in relatives, which were found by accessing DNA information. The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) used a lady’s broad Ancestry consent to access medical information about her father, through his doctor, a doctor she had never had contact with.

The article these quotes are taken from is available to read at Think Progress. They note at the bottom of the article, “This piece was originally published on the author’s own Medium page and has been republished on ThinkProgress with his permission.”

The old caveat, “Buyer beware,” is still true. But now it involves far deeper problems and goes into territory we haven’t explored yet.  Yes, part of it is still theoretical. But it brings up some thought provoking issues we don’t realize when we spit and send it in for analysis.

If you’ve had your DNA tested through Ancestry, how do you feel about this?

1)Think Progress, 2nd paragraph.
2)Think Progress, 17th paragraph.



This is from a tweet by @Twisted__Twigs.

Visit her website. She’s running an Easter special on Pension, Military and/or Land Records. They say their current turnaround time on Pre-19127 military records averages 2-3 weeks from confirmation to email delivery of your pdf file, and it’s all in full color.

It’s cheaper and faster than ordering from NARA. Plus NARA’s records are black and white.

On This Day


AbeLincolnOn this day, April 14, 1865, while watching a play at the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. President Lincoln was shot. A former governor of Wisconsin, Leonard Farwell, was also there, and ran over to tell Vice-President Jackson of the attack.

While I’m not related to Leonard Farwell (at least I don’t think I am!), I did have many relatives in Wisconsin during the 1860s and 1870s. I’m always curious to see what they may have been reading in the newspapers.

If you have ancestors from the Badger State, you may want to check out The Wisconsin Historical Society’s website. Besides the “This Day in History” feature, they have lots of records and photos. And newspaper articles, as linked above.

info from This Day in Wisconsin History
photo from Creative Common Photos of Abraham Lincoln

RootsTech 2017

RootsTech is coming up next week. You know this if you registered for it. But if you’re not attending, or haven’t heard about it, their live streaming schedule has been released.

Check this webpage for their schedule, which includes some very interesting topics:

  • Getting Started in Genealogy
  • DNA: The Glue That Holds Families Together
  • DNA Matching on MyHeritage
  • Jewish Genealogy: Where to Look and What’s Available
  • Family History Is Anything but Boring
  • Mothers, Daughters, Wives: tracing Female Lines
  • Censational Census Strategies
  • Big 4: Comparing Ancestry, findmypast, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage
  • Cross the Atlantic with Religious Records
  • Journaling Principles That Work
  • Don’t Just Be a Searcher, Be a Researcher
  • Creating Google Alerts for Your Genealogy

For more info about the speakers and general sessions that are streamed live, go to the RootsTech 2017 Live Streaming Schedule webpage.

– Define Your Dash –

Perhaps you’ve heard this idea before. A few years ago I read “the dash” poem by Linda Ellis:

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

Think of a tombstone. And the birth and death date on that marker. What’s between them? A dash, of course. Those of us who do family history spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out a lot of dashes for our ancestors.

But what about your life? Have you spent much time documenting “your dash”?

Earlier this week on Family Search’s blog there was a post entitled, Define Your Dash: Start Writing Your Personal History with the #52Stories Project. They wondered if most people have given much thought to what their legacy will be. Then they challenge people to reflect on their lives, collect their thoughts and make sense of their experiences.

There are benefits. It’s therapeutic. Patterns can emerge. It could reveal a sense of purpose and control in your life. It should provide gratitude. You may find a stronger sense of self. And it could even make you happy (happier!) and more successful in your daily life.

No matter which reason may prompt you to begin this journey, go read the blog post. And see if it doesn’t inspire you to start a journal, or a weekly blog post. Or check out the #52Stories Project on Instagram (@FamilySearch) and the FamilySearch Facebook Page.

Lest it seem too difficult, insurmountable, or you suffer from but what will I write about-itis, let me say it’s divided into manageable bites. Twelve themes with 12 different questions under each theme.

As the Family Search blog post says:

Your Story Matters

Start filling in the details of your dash now, while you’re still in the middle. Discover the power of shaping your own personal history, strengthening family bonds, and yes, leaving a legacy.

“A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory,” said Dennis B. Neuenschwander in a 1999 LDS general conference address. “What a tragedy this can be in the history of a family. Knowledge of our ancestors shapes us and instills within us values that give direction and meaning to our lives.”

What have you got to lose?

Better yet, what do those who come after you have to gain?

Don’t Panic


Or “Avoid Being Overwhelmed By Your Genealogy Research”

Has this ever happened to you? You all of a sudden have so much information, or perhaps records and paperwork, you become overwhelmed and don’t know what to do? Or don’t know what to work on first? One thing I’ve never figured out is why genealogical information comes in spurts – sometimes pretty heavy spurts!

Since I started my research about eight years ago, a lot more information has come online. What I collect in paper now isn’t nearly as much as what I collected then. I muddled through a system that worked for me back then. Now I scan whatever little paperwork I receive and file it in my computer (which is backed up online) and add it to my trees online.

The reason I started this post is because it’s one of the articles in the weekly Legacy News I receive via email. Whether you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your research, or you’re a pretty savvy organizer, it’s a good article full of great tips.

Read it here.

Webinar: Pedigree Map


It is intriguing when I see something different from the typical family tree associated with genealogy. A Family Tree webinar entitled, “Pedigree Map – An Interactive Map of Your Family History,” I had to see what it was all about.

Here’s the description:

PedigreeMap™ is an innovative way to visualize your family history. PedigreeMap plots events from your family tree such as births, marriages, and deaths, as well as digital and scanned photos on an interactive world map.

Daniel Horowitz and Uri Gonen were the presenters, and they highlighted the various aspects of what was available and how to access the various features. It was interesting, basically because I love maps, plus it’s cool to see your family spread across a world map. Gives a new perspective to far-flung lands!

Unlike most Family Tree Webinars, the syllabus for this webinar is free to download. Usually the syllabus is only downloadable to Family Tree Webinar subscribers. So that was a nice perk.

mh-logoPedigree Maps is accessible through MyHeritage, which I have never used. I’m curious if there’s anyone who has used this feature of MyHeritage. Maybe I’ll have to give them a try.

If you use MyHeritage, watching this webinar may help you quickly learn to use Pedigree Map. You might also want to check out the other two webinars about MyHeritage: “Book Matching Technology at MyHeritage” or “7 Unique Technologies for Genealogy Discoveries at MyHeritage“.