While the allure of exploring one’s family tree and lineage has meant big business for some companies, two major that research family lineage (for a fee) claim that over the last two years, they have received law enforcement demands for genetic information stored in their DNA databases. Ancestry.com and their competitor 23andme, hold the genetic information of hundreds of thousands of people. They have received five requests from law enforcement agencies for the DNA of six people.
Ancestry.com did turn over one person’s data for an investigation into the murder and rape of an 18-year-old woman in Idaho Falls, Idaho. 23andme has received four other court orders but have been successful in persuading investigators to withdraw the requests.
Privacy advocates and experts are concerned that genetic information turned over for medical, family history research or other highly personal reasons will be misused by investigators, and that this new trend could start a slippery slope.