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No major changes

Ancestry has updated its terms and conditions to revise certain privacy provisions.

Though as always The Legal Genealogist thinks everyone should read all terms and conditions carefully, and particularly where — as here — terms and conditions cover and impact DNA results, these changes overall are relatively minor and shouldn’t impact most users or the way they use Ancestry services.

Ancestry terms

Now remember that terms and conditions — terms of use — are he limits somebody who owns something we want to see or copy or use puts on whether or not he’ll let us see or copy or use it. These are limits that are different from copyright protection, since the law says what is and isn’t copyrighted and somebody can own a thing without owning the copyright. So this isn’t copyright law; it’s contract law — we and whoever owns the thing we want to see or copy or use reach a deal.1

So these terms are our contract with Ancestry — and they’re now changed. In a nutshell, the changes cover three general issues:

Find A Grave: The terms now clarify that the terms apply to Find A Grave as an Ancestry-owned website, and that the personal data Ancestry collects includes metadata (the hidden info automatically created by cameras) from photographs uploaded to Find A Grave. You can always delete the metadata before uploading. The terms also now clarify that the IP addresses of Find A Grave users are shared with advertisers to tailor ads.2

HIPAA: The terms clarify that Ancestry is not a covered entity under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) so “as a result no Additional User Information provided by you is subject to or protected by HIPAA.”3

International user rights: International users should take note of Section 12 of the Privacy Statement, focusing in international data transfers and Ancestry’s certifications under what are called privacy shields.4 And arbitration of disputes with US and international customers will be handled by JAMS in California.5

To read the new Terms of Service, effective 25 July 2019, the page is here. To read the new Privacy Statement, also effective 25 July 2019, the page is here.

Ancestry has also added a general Privacy Philosophy web page that you can peruse for more information. That page can be found here.

Overall, no big deal.

But don’t let that stop you from following up — don’t take my word for it: read through the new Terms and Conditions and Privacy Statement yourself.

Because everyone should read all terms and conditions carefully.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Ancestry updates its terms,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted date).


  1. See generally Judy G. Russell, “Reprise: a terms of use primer,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 29 Apr 2015 ( : accessed 30 July 2019).
  2. §§ 3 and 7, “Your Privacy,” ( : accessed 30 July 2019).
  3. Ibid., § 3.
  4. Ibid., § 12.
  5. §13, “Ancestry Terms and Conditions,” ( : accessed 30 July 2019).
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