(Posted by Ancestry Blog Team on January 25, 2016)
Today, we are releasing the first Ancestry Transparency Report, which covers law enforcement requests to Ancestry sites for member data in 2015. As we continue to make our members’ privacy a priority, our intent in issuing this report is to help explain to our members and the public the types of law enforcement requests Ancestry and its family of companies received, how we responded, and the nature of the investigations that sparked those requests. With each request, we continue to represent the rights of our members and always advocate strongly for their privacy.
As the full report reflects, this year Ancestry received a total of 14 law enforcement requests for private member data. Each case required valid legal process, and we made sure to carefully review each to ensure that it was not overreaching. After our review, we provided some information in response to 13 of those 14 requests.
All of the requests we received in 2015 were related to investigations involving credit card misuse and identity theft. We received no requests for information related to the health or genetic information of any Ancestry member, and we did not disclose any information to law enforcement that related to a member’s DNA.
It is important that our members and law enforcement officials understand what valid legal process means at Ancestry. Therefore, we are making public our Ancestry Guide for Law Enforcement that explains how officials can request information from Ancestry sites and what types of legal process we require for the different types of member data we collect.
Updates to Our Privacy Statement
Furthering this transparency, we’ve made some changes to our Privacy Statement. These changes clarify our practices, such as addressing “do not track” messaging, updating our disclosure in light of the European Commission’s recent decision on the transfer of personal data from Europe to the U.S., and adding references to our mobile applications. We also made substantive changes to further transparency, such as committing to provide notice to members if we receive a law enforcement request for their data, explaining how our members can connect to our services using social network services like Facebook, and explaining that, like many advertisers, we may use data about our members that we receive from third parties.