GEDmatch is not opting in the dead

The Legal Genealogist doesn’t usually write about DNA except on Sundays, but a quick post is needed today despite the pressures of RootsTech prep.

Here it is: GEDmatch is not opting the kits of deceased persons into that part of its database that law enforcement can access.

You may recall that GEDmatch — the third-party database where folks who’ve tested with one of the genealogical testing services can upload their data to try to match with folks who’ve tested with other services — originally chose to opt all users of its database into allowing law enforcement access. You had to explicitly opt out if you didn’t want that. Then it changed over to opting everybody out; you now have to explicitly opt in if you do want to allow it.1

Twice recently there have been reports that GEDmatch would change the opt-in/opt-out status and opt-in the kit of anyone who can be shown to be deceased. The latest even said there was a form to be used to do that by attaching an obituary.2

There’s only one person who can say whether that’s true or not: Brett Williams, CEO of Verogen, the forensic database company that now owns GEDmatch.

And the response gives us today’s alphabet soup: D is for a straightforward flat-out denial.

2020 letter D

When the first report came out, I emailed to ask whether it was true. The critical question I asked was this: “There has been a report … that GEDmatch will change the opt-in/opt-out status and opt-in the kit of anyone who can be shown to be deceased. … Is this report accurate?”3

The response, over the signature Brett Williams, CEO Verogen, was in relevant part: “This ‘report’ is false.”4

When the second report came out, I emailed him again to ask if anything had changed. My specific question was, “So let me get it clear, one more time: GEDmatch is not opting in any deceased person based on submission of an obituary. That form (a help form suggested in the latest report) is not to be used for that purpose. Correct?”5

His response: “Correct. I am not aware that we have received any of these forms.”6

So there you have it.

GEDmatch is not opting in the dead, obituary or not.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “2020 alphabet soup: D is for …,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 20 Feb 2020).

SOURCES

  1. See generally Judy G. Russell, “GEDmatch reverses course,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 19 May 2019 (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 20 Feb 2020).
  2. No, I’m not going to name names. That’s not the point.
  3. Email, Judy G. Russell to Brett Williams, GEDmatch, 8 Feb 2020. Other questions included “What proofs will GEDmatch require to establish the death?” and “On what legal basis does GEDmatch contend that it may change the opt-in opt-out status of a customer, whether deceased or not?”
  4. Email, Brett Williams, GEDmatch, to Judy G. Russell, 8 Feb 2020.
  5. Email, Judy G. Russell to Brett Williams, GEDmatch, 19 Feb 2020.
  6. Email, Brett Williams, GEDmatch, to Judy G. Russell, 20 Feb 2020.
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