FamilyTreeDNA Sued Over DNA Data Being Made Public

The following is from an article posted in the May 14, 2014 edition of

Family Tree DNA

On Tuesday, an Alaska man became the lead plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit filed against the makers of Family Tree [FamilyTreeDNA], a Texas-based DNA testing company.

In his suit, Michael Cole alleges that months after purchasing a Family Tree at-home genetics kit and joining a “project,” an online forum for people doing related research about their ancestors, “the results of his DNA tests were made publicly available on the Internet, and his sensitive information (including his full name, personal e-mail address, and unique DNA kit number) was also disclosed to third-party ancestry company RootsWeb (a subsidiary of, a company that allows users to research their lineage).

If approved as a class-action, the lawsuit would include Alaskans who had their DNA results shared by Family Tree without their consent. But it’s not clear exactly how many people that could potentially include. The filing charges Family Tree with being in violation of the Alaska Genetic Privacy Act and asks the court to award the plaintiffs $100,000 in damages plus attorney’s fees.

Read the full article.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (, writes daily at, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

1 thought on “FamilyTreeDNA Sued Over DNA Data Being Made Public”

  1. Michael Cole might want to READ the consent form we both signed. He chose to include his email and real name. Not everyone does. Once he made those choices, he agreed to share his information. This should be tossed out as a frivolous law suit. IMHO

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