New My Heritage DNA terms & conditions

After the recent post that cautioned against using the new DNA feature in My Heritage, there has been a review of their security issues that most concerned genealogists. Apparently, My Heritage was so bombarded by customers who were unhappy with the fine print regarding the uses of the DNA uploaded to My Heritage, that they actually changed their terms and conditions to make it safer and more acceptable to the genetic genealogy community. You can read more about it on Judy Russell’s excellent blog:…/myheritage-dna-terms-cha…/

Rule #1: Read the fine print

I’ve had a number of enquiries regarding the security of getting a DNA test done and also of uploading DNA data to third-party sites. This is a matter of concern for many people and is too big to tackle in a single post. I will plan on giving a presentation about security at one of our future WAGS DNA meetings.

For now, I would like to draw your attention to recent discussions that arose out of the My Heritage offer for free DNA uploading. There are two excellent blogs – which are excellent to subscribe to for all their entries – that have given very useful overviews to the security issue in the past couple of weeks.

Rule Number One: READ THE FINE PRINT of anything you ‘consent’ to.

The first article is Robert Estes, DNA Explained, which is a very long and thorough post about the importance of reading the fine print in the terms and conditions and also in the consent information. The main issue she addresses is the fact that pharmaceutical companies make profits from your DNA which can be sold on – in anonymous data.

The second is Judy Russell, Legal Genealogist, who addresses My Heritage specifically but it includes raising awareness of security issues in general.

And always refer back to Rule Number One!

Here’s a chart Roberta has made that compares the companies, which shows that if you are really concerned about security and sale of your DNA data, then Family Tree DNA and Gedmatch are by far and away the safest and do not sell your DNA.


* – Both 23andMe and Ancestry appear to utilize all clients DNA for anonymized distribution, but not for identified distribution without an individual opt-in.

*1 – According to the 23andMe Privacy Policy, although you can opt in to the higher level of research testing where your identity is not removed, you cannot opt out of the anonymized level of DNA sharing/sale. Please review current 23andMe documentation before making a decision.

*2 – Can Opt in or Opt out.

*3 – Can opt out of non-anonymized sales, but not anonymized sales. Please verify utilizing the current Ancestry documents before making a decision.

*4 – indicates that you can withdraw consent, but does not say anything about deleting your DNA file.

*5 – DNA.Land states in their consent agreement that they will not provide identified DNA information without first contacting you.

*6 – At 23andMe, deleting DNA from data base closes account.

*7 – Automatically opted in for anonymized sales/sharing, but must opt in for identified DNA sharing.

*8 – 23andMe has been and continues to experience significant difficulties and at this point are not considered a viable genetic genealogy option by many, or stated another way, they would be the last choice of the main three testing companies.

*9 – All legal action must be brought in Tel Aviv, Israel, individually, and not as a class action suit, according to item 9 in the DNA Terms of Use document.

*10 – Website in Chinese, information through an automated English translator, so the information provided here is necessarily incomplete and may not be entirely accurate.