Family History Search - Discovering Your Ancestry

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On some parts of the website, you can publish things including your family tree , make comments or participate on forums. If you do, you must not: publish something that you do not own the copyright in or have permission to publish it from the copyright owner ; […]; or share the personal information of living people without their permission. In these cases, a separate link is provided that directs the client to the privacy policy document of the company offering the DNA test.

These are discussed below Group 3.

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Concerns over ownership of samples as cited by these companies could be interpreted to reflect the fact that in some countries, such as the UK, legislation is in place to protect against the collection and use of DNA samples without the explicit consent of the person from whom it was taken [ 23 ]. The remaining four companies do not have a consent by use statement and no specific mention is made by any of the companies about the ethical implications for third parties, such as possible adverse psychological reactions to genetic ancestry data [ 12 ]. In addition, 23andMe, through only their United Kingdom, Canadian and European branches, also offer health-related information and specifically, using variants or markers, information about genetic risk factors, inherited conditions, pharmacogenetics and other traits e.

As previously mentioned, these companies provide services to clients referred through other ancestry companies. As with other companies discussed, consent is deemed to be given when services are purchased. These companies however are more specific when detailing the services to which one is consenting.

By agreeing to our Privacy Statement and Terms of Service, you consent to sensitive information, such as information about your health, Genetic Information, and Self-Reported Information such as racial and ethnic origin and sexual orientation where you provide it being used by us to: analyze and provide you with our Services; analyze and provide you with information about your ancestry; determine whether you would be suitable to take part in surveys, polls or questionnaires that we are conducting; and monitor and improve existing products or services that we offer or develop new products and service [ 26 ].

Furthermore, 23andMe and AncestryDNA demonstrate concern for third parties by asking their clients to obtain consent from other people before using their information. AncestryDNA states that,. You should obtain the consent from the living persons about which you want to post personal information on the Websites, or, if the person is under the age of 18, the consent of their parent or guardian [ 27 ]. Looking at your genetic data might uncover information that some people find surprising. This information can be relatively benign and even amusing.

Family History | National Records of Scotland

At other times, the information you learn can have profound implications for both you and your family [ 28 ]. In that document they cover issues relating to families revealing information about new biological relatives or misattributed paternity ; ancestry; health increased risk of a particular condition and relationships.

They specifically mention:. Because genetic information is hereditary, knowing something about your genetics also tells you something about those closely related to you. Your family may or may not want to know this information as well, and relationships with others can be affected by learning about your DNA. Everyone has different tolerances and preferences for learning information. You might be surprised by a family member who would prefer not to know something you feel is important to share. At other times, you may learn something about yourself, your family, your ancestry, or health-related associations with your genotype that you would prefer to keep private.

You may find yourself having to weigh sharing such information with other family members against your own desire for privacy - or their desire not to know [ 28 ]. These studies range from more traditional genealogical research with non-profit groups [ 29 ] to biomedical research using genetic data. Family Tree DNA offers the opportunity to participate in a variety of volunteer-lead projects and to combine personal DNA data with that from others to explore, for example, the history of particular surnames or geographical locations.

Clients are informed about the necessary broad and explicit consent required depending on the circumstances. General consent is needed to participate in any GenebyGene services, while explicit consent will be asked for participating in specific research activities, which may involve allowing access to the anonymised data or to their personal, non-anonymised data, depending on the study. Both companies provide publically available consent forms [ 32 , 33 ] describing the information that might be required e. Although a wide range of information is requested, including pedigree and family history data, no specific concerns are expressed regarding third party interests: they only acknowledge that test results might reveal information about others.

For example, AncestryDNA states the following:. Your test results may reveal information about you or your biological family blood relatives , but there are no physical risks for providing a saliva sample and having your sample and Information used in this Project [ 32 ].

How to trace your Irish family history: a step-by-step guide

However, industry observers believe that it is only a matter of time before these two subsidiaries link their family history, self-reported and DNA data to enable Ancestry. It works with patient communities, academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies, and publishes its results in peer-reviewed journals. All research activities are overseen by an independent institutional review board. Due to its large client population and access to associated data, it claims to be able to produce useful research results in a shorter time than other more traditional biomedical research projects [ 35 ].

Their research consent states that genetic and self-reported information will be collected including information submitted prior to giving consent [ 36 ]. Our analysis showed that the amount of text discussing the need to take third parties into consideration, whether biologically related or not, varied substantially across the activities we examined.

They acknowledge that ancestry information is shared across families and that their consent should be sought. However, when DNA analysis is included or is the sole means of participation, there is a shift to language focusing on the protection of the use of personal or sensitive information of the client and ownership of DNA samples, with little language about third parties.

Googling Your Family History - Ancestry

These differences appear to indicate that family history data and DNA are thought of in different ways. Attitudes towards family history data reflect its name — people recognise it as involving more than just the individual. Attitudes towards the brokering of DNA, on the other hand, can be seen in two different ways. Family considerations may not be discussed because of a lack of understanding of its familial nature.

Or, it may be because companies have chosen a goods-for-service paradigm which is commonly used in business and protected through the law. They may highlight the issue, such as with 23andMe, but again only with the client. Any language is mainly placed in privacy policies or terms of use agreements, documents that may not be readily obvious, or even of interest, to the client.

Such a model places the onus of knowing the implications and communicating those to the client. The level of understanding that clients possess regarding genealogy information is questionable [ 37 , 38 ] and it is not known how many actually read the terms and conditions or privacy statements provided. Moreover, while it is obvious to most people that dates and records of family members might not be personal data and could affect others, it is not clear that a saliva sample is viewed the same way.

Much has been written about fallibility of anonymisation. Given expertise, resources and will, it is possible to re-identify individuals from anonymised family history data [ 39 ] suggesting that procedures such as name removal and encoding are not sufficient to protect against privacy breaches. Another concern is whether clients or third parties actually know that their data may move to jurisdictions with differing data protection regimes.

Linkage is another potential concern. Family Tree DNA offers to their clients the possibility to transfer in their raw data from the databases 23andMe or AncestryDNA to find new possible matches in their database. Genealogical databases are contributing to scientific research, such as through Familinx which combines and links pedigrees contributed by My Heritage clients and others for scientific research [ 40 ].

Do relatives understand the possibilities? Traditional informed consent reflects individualistic decision-making. We argue that it is time to think of consent in broader terms, as a discussion that, when involving genetic information, goes beyond the individual and asks all parties to think about and involve the broader family and biological relatives. In the context of this study, we suggest companies notify potential clients of the implications for third parties and ask them to inform those third parties of plans to participate.

While it would continue to be the responsibility of the client to decide who should be notified, we suggest companies should not ignore the possible ramifications for their clients. At a minimum this could be additional text clearly displayed in a location where it will be seen and written in accessible language, and a line on the consent form that when ticked indicates agreement. We recognise that ensuring clients are aware of this information is difficult, and we invite further discussions with the companies studied to determine how such provisions might be put into place and successfully followed.

For this we can take the lead from those involved in traditional forms of family association studies and genetic counselling — begin with the individual and let them take you to the third parties to continue the discussion. We also should take advantage of the enthusiasm shown by people becoming involved in ancestry, genealogy and genetic investigations to open and expand the dialogue.

There will be instances of harm, such as misattributed paternity, and we must continue to investigate greater protections for personal data. There will be legal questions and debates regarding the ownership of genetic data [ 42 — 44 ]. But re-identification is happening and ancestry data is moving into human subjects research and being used to inform healthcare decisions.

Genealogy and Family History

More openness and discussion is needed around the collection, linkage and use of pedigree data. If generational consent is seen a way forward, the intricacies of such a process will need considerable thought and discussion. Middleton et al. Competing interests. SW conceived of the study, contributed to the analysis of the data and led the writing of the paper. EGG assisted with the data collection and the analysis and contributed to the writing of the paper. VN led the data collection, assisted with the analysis of the data and contributed to the writing of the paper. NS contributed to the design of the study and to the writing of the paper. Pleasingly, many of them are free. Their knowledge and memories of relations can provide a mine of information.

Coming from a generation that seldom threw anything away, you may find they have some interesting documents — not just birth, death and marriage certificates, but newspaper cuttings, photographs and letters that will bring your family history to life. This is part of an all-important note-taking exercise. And be careful what information you discard. A name or an address that seems irrelevant at the time may become important later in your research.