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Pioneers in Direct-to-Consumer DNA Test Kits Work with F.B.I. to Catch Killers

Date: 18.2.2019 

In 2000, when Bennett Greenspan, President and Founder of Gene-by-Gene Ltd. and FamilyTreeDNA, launched FamilyTreeDNA as the first direct-to-consumer DNA testing company, he never imagined that it would lead to the creation of a booming industry.

Kredit: FamilyTreeDNA.An avid genealogist, Greenspan created FamilyTreeDNA to help other family researchers solve problems and break down walls to connect the dots of their family trees. Without realizing it, he had inadvertently created a platform that, nearly two decades later, would help law enforcement agencies solve violent crimes faster than ever.

Gene-by-Gene, Ltd., which is privately owned by Greenspan and his business partner Max Blankfeld and is a CAP and CLIA accredited laboratory that performs all of the consumer DNA testing for their company FamilyTreeDNA as well as several other commercial clients, is working with the FBI to test DNA samples provided by law enforcement in order to help identify perpetrators of violent crimes and to identify the remains of deceased individuals.

After receiving inquiries from the FBI, Greenspan found himself asking whether, as a trusted guardian of consumer DNA data and consumer privacy according to U.S. News and World Reports, FamilyTreeDNA in good conscience and without violating consumers' trust could help the FBI identify the remains of deceased persons or perpetrators of violent crimes (as defined in 18 U.S. Code § (924) (e) (2) (B)), saving lives and preventing others from becoming victims?

"We came to the conclusion," says Greenspan, "that if law enforcement created accounts, with the same level of access to the database as the standard FamilyTreeDNA user, they would not be violating user privacy and confidentiality. In order for the FBI to obtain any additional information, they would have to provide a valid court-order such as a subpoena or search warrant."





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