Can The Other Guys Say That?

Remember when FamilyTreeDNA promised never to sell your genetic data?  “Can the Other Guys Say That?” was the advertising campaign.

Does a merger count?  Because FamilyTreeDNA and Gene by Gene, its parent company, have just merged with an Australian pharmacogenetics company called myDNA.  The former CEO of Gene by Gene has stepped down and been replaced by Lior Rauchberger, the CEO of myDNA.

Can the other guys say that?

11 thoughts on “Can The Other Guys Say That?”

  1. I guess it all depends on what the merger means for our data and to what extent the policies of FTDNA will change. At first we’ll probably hear that there will be no changes in policy and then over time the policies will morph into something else. Looking at the testing stats, one has to recognize that FTDNA lags way behind Ancestry and 23andMe in database numbers. None of the other companies have gender-linked databases though so FTDNA is well ensconced in that niche. My experience with mergers is that they usually wind up meaning a reduction in quality and service and increase in price (not that FTDNA was perfect to begin with), but as always I’m hoping for the best.

  2. Wow, that’s a bomb shell. Let’s see which course of action the new owner (seems that Gene by Gene was taken over rather) is taking.

    In regards to ownership of the data (but why buy them if you can’t use the data which is what is the core value of FTDNA) and in regards to allowing law enforcement to work closely with them.

    But it’s clear for a long time that FTDNA was never run well enough to grow large enough. They had the first mover advantage but lost that to 23andMe and then Ancestry quickly.

    1. The genetic data is an asset of the company. If the company sells, so does the data. There may be some wiggle room in classifying the deal as a merger rather than an outright sale, but the fact remains that a new CEO is in charge of the genetic data of millions of people who were promised “We feel the only person that should have your DNA is you. We don’t believe it should be sold, traded, or bartered.”

      From the same press release: “Other DNA testing companies are, in fact, selling consumers’ genetic data to pharmaceutical companies for a profit. While these companies claim to remove personally identifying information prior to selling the data, the question, says Greenspan, is whether consumers feel the sale of their genetic data is “part of the deal [they] really thought [they] were signing up for when [they] ordered a simple DNA test for genealogical purposes.””

      Did FTDNA’s customers think they were signing up for a merger with an Australian pharmacogenetics company?

      1. You seriously think that Bennet Greenspan was going to live for ever? Generational change at the company was well due.
        And everybody I have ever heard on the subject thought the “not selling your DNA” was about making profit by allowing personal information to be used for other purposes. (Putting aside actions regarding LE in recent times for the moment.) There is so far no indication that is going to happen. Maybe one indication is whether myDNA has already acted in that way, and there is no indication that they have. (I say that as an Australian who knows people who are strongly against such practices, are highly vigilant on that front and would report any instance they found.)
        We don’t yet know what the new owners’ intentions are.
        I’m sure all of us would like to know their intentions and are awaiting a statement to customers rather than what has gone to financial markets.

        1. Other DNA companies are not entirely dependent on the lifespan or whims of one individual. That lack of oversight is what’s made FTDNA so untrustworthy, especially in the past few years as Greenspan first gave then sold access to his customer’s data to law enforcement. I do hope that myDNA are better stewards of the data and can perhaps update the offerings at FTDNA.

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