Genealogy Company Giving Access to Its Database to the Police

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Short Title Genealogy Company Has Given Access to Its Database to the Idaho Police
Location United States
Date 2015

Solove Harm Disclosure
Information Identifying, Physical Characteristics, Medical and Health, Family
Threat Actors LLC, Law Enforcement

Affected People who's genetic data was on
High Risk Groups Suspect
Tangible Harms Anxiety genealogy company gave access to its data base to the police of Idaho, who were investigating a 1996 murder case. The person, whom the police suspected after a DNA search, turned out to be not guilty.


Ancestry is for-profit genealogy company with the largest database in the world. It operates a network of genealogical, historical records, and related genetic genealogy websites and most users use it to find relatives, learn about ancestors and get insights into their health.

In 2015 Idaho police uploaded some crime-scene evidence to and searched for possible matches. A partial match popped up, and told police that it would hand over the information if they got a  search warrant, so they did. The is an example of Disclosure.

Interestingly, it turned out, that the person, whom the police suspected after the DNA search, appeared to be not guilty. They targeted a man who afterwards said to the media that he regarded his experience as an invasion of privacy.

It took a police interrogation, another DNA test and weeks of time until the suspect was cleared.

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