Statement from GEDmatch on Concerns of Shareable DNA

1. The primary person behind identifying the GSK was not Paul Holes.

This is not to belittle Paul's role. However, only an experienced genealogist could lead the investigation through the complicated path required to provide a person of interest. The person who had the ability to do this was recently announced. It is Barbara Rae-Venter.  

2. Privacy rights are not being violated.  

  • No DNA of any person is available on GEDmatch
  • GEDmatch only shows matches of DNA sections.  It does not show DNA itself
  • The DNA used for genealogical matching purposes is generally what was previously called "junk DNA" rather than genes.  Genes constitute less than 2% of the human genome.
  • With one exception, it is not possible to identify any one person as having supplied the DNA information that was used to ultimately find the person of interest.  The one exception would be if the person of interest or an immediate family member were to put their information on GEDmatch.  This is not what has happened in the solved cases.  If I were to "reverse engineer" the solved cases, starting with the finding of the person of interest and working backward, I could still not identify anyone as being the person whose DNA was used to identify the suspect.  This is because there were many, perhaps hundreds of people whose information was used to include or exclude the possible persons of interest before reaching a final conclusion.  

People are used to solving cases based on comparing evidence with a suspect.   GEDmatch is a whole new paradigm.  It solves cases where there is no suspect, hence cold case.  This new paradigm finds persons of interest where there was none before.  It does it using many databases.  The GEDmatch database is only the first piece.  It points to a long complicated path of investigation using many other databases.  These include things such as family trees, Social Security indexes, State libraries of births, deaths, and marriages, newspaper databases (especially obits and marriages to find who attended the ceremonies etc), cemetery databases, and many many many more databases.  If you are going to say GEDmatch found a person of interest, you have to also say that every other database used also found that person of interest.  it takes a knowledgeable, experienced genealogist to follow this complicated path.  
GEDmatch continues to provide genealogical researchers with data.  We are not working with law enforcement nor do we feel we have the power to prevent their use of GEDmatch.  We are doing everything we can to make sure our users are aware of possible law enforcement use.  Our policy statement prior to law enforcement warned that any information shown on our site could be used by some (not us) for purposes other than genealogy.  We now specifically state that law enforcement could be one of these uses.  There have been a series of other changes warning of possible uses.  We never advertise or promote to urge people to use GEDmatch.  Use is entirely up to the person owning the data - the person tested.  We make it easy for users to add or delete their information themselves any time they wish.
GEDmatch is a free site run by a very few volunteers in what free time we have after our "day jobs" and other activities. They have no employees. We are not a prosperous company. We do this for fellow genealogists.

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