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Changes in terms of use announced

The genealogical community spoke… and a genealogical company listened.

MyHeritage has thoroughly revised its terms of use for its newly-announced DNA Matching service — and the terms that the community may have had qualms about are now gone. Even the problem with what permissions are required and what’s merely requested has been addressed.

thumb-upThe Legal Genealogist wrote about the earlier, more restrictive terms of use for the about-to-be-launched DNA matching service in Sunday’s blog post, MyHeritage DNA matching & terms of use.1

Terms of use, remember, are “the limits somebody who owns something you want to see or copy or use puts on whether or not he’ll let you see or copy or use it.”2 In this case, the terms of use govern whether we can use the MyHeritage DNA matching service3 and, if we do, what rights we’re giving MyHeritage. And the terms of use for this new service have now been revised, and you can read them here.

The first concern the community had was the fact that it wasn’t clear that — to use the DNA matching service — a user only had to agree to the terms of use; the separate document called a Consent Agreement that applies to research uses of the DNA results isn’t required at all. And that lack of clarity has now been addressed by adding the word “mandatory” in parentheses after the terms of use.

Second, MyHeritage has completely deleted the paragraph that users were giving it the right to “transfer, lease, rent, sell, share and/or or otherwise distribute de-identified information to third parties for any purpose, including without limitation, internal business purposes.” Even though the old paragraph said the information would only be aggregated with data from others and that all personal identifiers would be removed, it’s a huge step forward for user privacy that there can’t be any sharing of this information with unspecified third parties.

Third, and related to the change above, MyHeritage has taken out the language that gave it a “transferable … license to use your DNA Results” — so it’s crystal clear that there isn’t going to be any use or sale or sharing of DNA results with third parties unless MyHeritage comes back to users and gets specific permission. (Or of course unless you opt in to the Consent Agreement and the research project — your choice.)

Finally, you can now withdraw your permission to MyHeritage to use your DNA data for matching purposes at any time. The old language gave MyHeritage a “perpetual … license to use your DNA Results” — meaning a license that lasted forever — and that word perpetual is now gone. So you can change your mind at any time.

So … what do we have here?

A company that listened.

And then acted.



Without playing games or making excuses.

Without even blaming the lawyers who, let’s face it, even The Legal Genealogist blames for most things like this.

How… refreshing…


  1. Judy G. Russell, MyHeritage DNA matching & terms of use The Legal Genealogist, posted 22 May 2016 ( : accessed 26 May 2016).
  2. Ibid., “Reprise: a terms of use primer,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 29 Apr 2015.
  3. See “MyHeritage is Adding Free DNA Matching,” MyHeritage blog, posted 19 May 2016 ( : accessed 21 May 2016).
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