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Effective Immediately: IMF to Resume Family Tree DNA Database Uploads with Client Authorization



As a result of newly released information, discussions, upload trials, and observations, Intermountain Forensics (IMF) has decided to resume FTDNA uploads for clients who understand the new process and subsequently authorize our upload to the database.


To aid those within the community and to continue to commit to our fundamental value of transparency, we’d like to share our experiences and help provide some clarity into the changes within the process to help other entities that are weighing this choice.

 

To recap this process, on January 24, 2024, Intermountain Forensics made the decision to suspend uploads to the FTDNA database after Othram, Inc. shared a January 23, 2024 press release that announced an exclusive partnership involving the upload process of the FamilyTreeDNA database.


At the time, we felt that this implementation was rushed and did not provide the clarity and confidence we needed and made the decision to halt uploads.  We subsequently posted our decision as well as our concerns and questions on our website: (https://www.intermountainforensics.com/post/imf-commitment-to-client-privacy-in-response-to-changes-in-the-ftdna-database-submission-process )


A group of industry professionals, including our CEO, Karra Porter (https://www.chrisjen.com/Attorney-Karra-J-Porter) and our Director of Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy, Alison Wilde (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alison-wilde-1642a017a/) met with Dr. Lior Rauchberger, CEO of GeneByGene/FamilyTreeDNA and Dr. David Mittelman, CEO of Othram to discuss our numerous questions and obtain clarity into the process.   We would like to take this time to thank Lior and David for this discussion. With Karra’s extensive civil rights litigation history and Alison Wilde’s long tenured experience with the FIGG process, we felt equipped to make appropriate evaluations of the information presented. IMF then made a decision to upload a very limited data set to evaluate the process, confirm information shared within that meeting, and document our experience and any changes we observed.  It is important to note that we proceeded with full support, communication, transparency and feedback from our clients whose casework we uploaded.


As a result of these uploads, we noted much of the process remained the same with a few exceptions. The most noticeable deviation to the historical process is that Othram becomes the client of record on the resulting DNA kit, even though they have no relationship with the investigating agency or case associated with the DNA file.  In all but one instance, we have been able to replace Othram’s email with the correct client email and change the password assigned to the kit before the DNA Relative Match list was populated.  This part of the new process remains a concern and is something disclosed to clients requesting FTDNA uploads.


The addition of Othram as a middleman in the upload process invariably has the potential to lengthen turnaround time, though from our observation, not significantly in comparison to the previous FTDNA historical range (anywhere from a few days to two weeks). All upload tests through Othram have thus far been processed within 7-14 days.


Although the $700 upload fee remained consistent, payment is now required upfront by Othram before they will provide login information.   This may be important for planning purposes to some organizations/agencies as previously FTDNA billed after successful upload and allowed 30 days for payment.  (Note: GEDmatch PRO also requires pre-payment and will not provide credit/reimbursement for data files that fail to meet batch processing thresholds and thus do not have a viewable DNA Relative Match list.  Othram has advised that they will give an upload credit for these types of kits.)


Throughout this process, our laboratory was in constant contact with our partner agencies to ensure they were aware of potential data privacy and confidentiality issues.  Although there is no difference in how the DNA data file is handled, case details (case number, investigating agency, etc.) are reviewed and stored by Othram staff.  


With changes to our client disclosure and authorization process, IMF has now resumed uploads to the FTDNA database.  We will continue to monitor and share our experience as any changes occur while Othram continues to optimize and create a “portal” for FTDNA upload.  If at any time we feel expected adjustments to this process jeopardize confidentiality, privacy or legality, we commit to informing the community and at that time would reinstitute our suspension of FTDNA upload. We will also institute a planned upload pause and a follow up review that will occur when this proposed FTDNA portal has been implemented and is ready for use. As well, we will continue to maintain our long standing fiscal policy of upload to GEDMatch and subsequent evaluation of DNA relative match list before potentially proceeding with the upload to the FTDNA database, if deemed necessary.


If there are any questions or concerns regarding our observations and/or our internal decision to resume FTDNA uploads, please feel free to reach out to info@intermountainforensics.com.

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