GEDMatch to opt in or opt out? That is the Question?

GEDMatch to opt in or opt out? That is the Question?




My opinion has now changed, thanks to a wonderfully powerful blog from @tollgenealogy I have actually changed my opinion and opted in. If you haven’t read the blog I urge you to do so first before making your mind up, I have included a link here.

Gedmatch Opt-In: A Plea


Following a recent post that I made on twitter, regarding my dilemma over whether to opt in or opt out of the GEDMatch database, I was overwhelmed at the wonderful response from the Twitter Genealogy community.

I have included my original post here and have included both the positive and negative responses to the question I posed in the hope that the answers here, might help somebody who is also undecided whether to opt in or out themselves.


“I am having a genuine dilemma over my DNA match on GEDMatch, I obviously have nothing to hide with my DNA and the whole point of testing is to maximise exposure, would like to hear what others have done or are doing, thanks.”

“I think important topics like this need airing, it’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about making informed decisions and to do that we need as much information as we can.”


undecided voter concept



I’ll stay for sure. Without the benefit of collaboration the value of DNA as a tool for genealogy quickly drops to zero.


I’m staying in. I’m happy for my DNA to be used by Police. However I do think they should update their T7C’s to reflect reality, plus put together an ethics board to liaise with police.


I’m staying in. If my DNA can help solve a crime and bring closure to others I’m all for it.


I’m in. My view is, assume someone somewhere is doing unethical things with your GEDMatch data, since it’s a public database and decide from that point of view whether you want your data there.


I’m opting in to law enforcement for my own DNA results on GEDMatch. The moment one mails a DNA sample to the testing company the genie is out of the bottle. So by the time I took the test, I had already decided that I could live with the risks of non-consensual use.


Collaboration for me. I post my own results wherever I can (other than Ancestry) and encourage my clients to do the same. DNA is an incredibly valuable tool in my research kit and I’d hate to lose it.


If my DNA can bring peace to the family of a murder victim or conviction of a rapist I’m more than glad to leave it on GEDMatch.


I’m happy for my DNA to help catch criminals, solve cold cases and bring closure to grieving families.


What’s privacy? Really when it comes to online activities? Don’t most of us research to find living descendants, even those that haven’t DNA tested? There is so much personal information online these days, it’s insane. If you have an online presence you can easily be found.


I opted in for law enforcement access and made the kits that I manage “Research Only” until I obtain informed consent to change to a different option.


After a long hard think and the revision of their policy to enable me to decide about opting in/out have decided to stay.


Opted in. Happy to help with the identification of criminals.


I decided to opt in. If my DNA can help solve a serious crime then I’m all for it.


If my DNA was used to help catch a murderer or rapist, I would feel nothing but honoured to be of help. I seriously wonder about people that have a problem with it.

 Screen Shot 2019-06-01 at 13.03.00



For many, it’s a matter of companies honouring their own terms of service. There’s a level of trust that’s been broken (sometimes repeatedly). A person could be fine with current TOS, but who’s to say the company won’t violate it again with something they don’t agree with?


I took mine down and it will remain so, I am not a monster, I do not seek to aide violent criminals. But any company that has glibly broken legal contract with me twice doesn’t get a 3rd chance. Constitutional issues play in too. No one gets to steal my agency.


I have not opted in. In principle I’m happy to share my DNA. But I have many concerns about the US criminal justice system, especially the use of the death penalty, the treatment of Mothers of abandoned babies, as murderers and testing the “abandoned” DNA of innocent people.


I similarly have concerns. I would hate for my DNA to be used to execute someone in the States where the death penalty is still an option.


A lot of people are making it a moral issue when it’s actually a legal issue. We need to discuss these things to be sure that everyone understands that.


I have thought about it for a while, but recent events have made me pull the plug.


You have to bear in mind that even if your DNA is not on GEDMatch, you could still be caught up in a criminal investigation and treated as a suspect simply because one of your relatives is in the database.


I have deleted my account.


I have decided not to opt in to the law enforcement option, but after reading @legalgen blog on the subject thinking about deleting my kits on GEDMatch.



I am getting very concerned with GEDMatch violations of its own T&C’s, this shows how weak US Privacy Legislation and its regulators are compared to what we have in the EU.



My concern is not with GEDMatch but with US law enforcement who were encouraging actions that were in violation of T&C’s. Who knows how much pressure GEDMatch were put under? There has to be ethical oversight of US law enforcement agencies. At the moment it’s a wild west.


Innocent people who are not on GEDMatch are still at risk so long as they have a relative on GEDMatch. In the US police can put innocent people under surveillance and take a DNA sample from so called @abandoned@ DNA without consent.


I deleted my my kit and those I manage. I have no problem with aiding law enforcement but they broke their own TOC’s and the new opt out option doesn’t give any real protection as @legalgen showed. It’s th breach of trust and lack of informed consent that sealed my decision.




I have noticed fewer enquiries from potential cousins on GEDMatch so DNA matches from this site appears to be lower than before. Sitting on the side lines waiting for a bit before making a decision.


It’s about choice though, understanding fully what you are signing up to and also agreeing too and the said companies abiding by their TOC’s.


I am conflicted too. On the one hand I am happy to have serious crimes solved, AND I am really uncomfortable with the repeated breaches of TOC’s


For the time being I have made my kits ‘research kits’. I’m trying to buy myself a little time while I think it through and decide whether I will remove my kits.


Screen Shot 2019-06-01 at 13.02.42




Again I would re-emphasise that this is not my own personal view, but the view of the general genealogy community on twitter and I offer no bias to the overall opinion. We all have to make our own decisions based on our own personal view points and I hope that some of the comments here might help you to make an informed decision yourself. There are plenty of more informative blogs online than this one, this is deliberately aimed at people’s own personal opinions.


For the record I am opting out. That opinion has now changed, thanks to a wonderfully powerful blog from @tollgenealogy I have actually changed my opinion and opted in. If you haven’t read the blog I urge you to do so first before making your mind up, I have included a link here.

Gedmatch Opt-In: A Plea


If you want further reading or more informative information I suggest you follow @DebbieKennett and @isogg on twitter.

Please follow my regular blog for Family Tree Magazine  Here

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