Stop. Evaluate. Consider.
Almost every day, it seems, there are new toys — er, new tools — available to help us understand, analyze and use our DNA results.
DNA Painter with its wonderful ability to help visualize segment data.
Genetic Affairs with its automagical creation of cluster groups from matches in common.
Just yesterday the announcement that a site for cross-platform matching of YDNA and mtDNA results called mitoYDNA.org is now accepting uploads of data.
They’re fun. They’re wonderful. They’re exciting.
And The Legal Genealogist has a question for anyone who’s used or tried any of these tools or indeed for anyone who’s tested with any testing platform or used any DNA analysis tool online:
What do you know about who’s behind that website’s home page?
In other words, did you just click through all the background info and the “yes, I’ve read the privacy statement and terms and conditions” pages?
Or did you stop and actually look at and read all of those important warnings?
Now… don’t get me wrong. I am not warning you off on using any testing platform or any DNA analysis tool. I myself have tested with just about every company that’s out there — my philosophy is that I haven’t met a DNA test I wouldn’t take1— and I’ve used or at least tried out just about every tool I could figure out how to use.
But the one thing I won’t do is test with or use any website where I haven’t read the terms and conditions, read the privacy statements or warnings, and been able to see or find out just exactly who2 is behind the website itself.
Some of them make it easy: on the mitoYDNA.org website, for example, clicking through to the Privacy page gives you the complete terms and conditions — not to mention a physical address and how to reach the folks behind the website — and clicking through to the Board page gives you a brief biography of who those folks are.
Each of these sites, and others we might use, has information for us to evaluate and consider as we decide whether we’re comfortable sharing our information with that website and using the tools it makes available.
But we can’t truly be comfortable unless we engage in that evaluation and consideration.
In other words, unless we stop and read the terms and conditions, the privacy statements, the About pages.
Unless we know who’s behind the website.
So before we click through to that new tool, before we sign on for that new test, before we ask a cousin to play with us in some new website’s sandbox, we need to take the time to review what we know and what we can find out about that website:
• What does the website require of us if we’re going to use it?
• What are the terms and conditions?
• What does it mean for our privacy?
• And who’s behind the website?
If we can’t answer those questions, or we’re not comfortable with the answers, we need to think again.
Don’t just click through.
Stop. Evaluate. Consider.