Ancestry received a search warrant from police seeking access to its DNA database, but the firm challenged the warrant, Buzzfeed News reports. This, it adds, could foreshadow coming legal battles between direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies and law enforcement.
Law enforcement has begun using genetic genealogy as an investigative tool. This approach has led to a number of high-profile arrests, including in the Golden State Killer case. But it has also raised privacy and consent concerns and the genetic genealogy database GEDmatch, for instance, altered its terms and conditions to make its default to opt users out of being part of police searches. A Florida detective, though, said he was able to access the database after getting a warrant, as the New York Times reported in November.
As Buzzfeed News notes, both Ancestry and 23andMe have said they would fight police requests to access their databases. In a new transparency report, Ancestry says it received nine law enforcement requests for user data, mostly for credit card misuse, identity theft, and fraud, and complied with six of those requests. It also received a search warrant seeking access to its DNA database, but as Buzzfeed News reports, the firm said the warrant was "improperly served" and it did not comply.