Terms of Service
DNA Justice Foundation – Terms of Service
The DNA Justice Foundation (“DJF”) is a non-profit organization dedicated to securing justice through investigative genetic genealogy (“IGG”). DJF is designed to provide a database (the “Database”) where informed members of the public (the “Public”) can upload their DNA profiles and other identifying information for use in IGG. Investigating agencies and their IGG practitioners (collectively referred to as “Agencies”) will use the Database to identify investigative leads in “Eligible Cases” (defined below).
These Terms of Service reflect DJF’s commitment to transparency and informed consent for all members of the public who choose to upload their information to the Database. By using DJF, you consent to these Terms of Service.
Terms of Service for the Public
What Will the Personal Information the Public Provides to DJF Be Used For?
Any Personal Information provided by the Public to DJF will be used to help Agencies resolve Eligible Cases.
An Eligible Case is any of the following. 1) unidentified human remains (“UHR”); 2) the violent crimes of murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape/sexual assault, abduction, robbery, aggravated assault, terrorism, imminent threats to public safety – and any attempts at the first three crimes. Eligible Cases do not include fetal remains or stillborn children where the purpose would be to implicate the birthing parent in a crime. Note: DJF relies on Agencies to provide accurate reporting of the crimes they are investigating.
DJF is not a public genetic genealogy database. Any Personal Information provided to DJF will only be available to Agencies investigating Eligible Cases and to DJF itself (but see Other Uses of Your Personal Information below.)
What Personal Information Does DJF Collect From the Public, and How Will It Be Used?
If you wish to participate in DJF as a member of the Public, you must provide the following Personal Information, which will be made available to Agencies for use in their research:
- Your full name
- Your email address
You may provide the following optional additional Personal Information, which would also be made available to Agencies for use in their investigation:
- Your sex (assigned sex at birth)
- Your date of birth
- Your city and state
- Your place of birth
- Any family history or genealogy information, including links to online family trees
- Your GEDcom family tree file
- Any additional information that you believe may be useful to Agencies
If you are instead uploading a DNA Profile for someone else, you must attest that you have obtained their informed consent.
What Are DNA Profiles and How Are They Collected by DJF?
DNA Profiles are genotype data files that contain a subset of your genetic variants. These are produced when you test with Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) testing companies. DNA Profiles can include autosomal DNA (“atDNA”), mitochondrial DNA (“mtDNA”), and DNA from your sex chromosomes (“Y-DNA” or “X-DNA”).
If you wish to participate in DJF, you will upload your DNA Profile from your computer or device to the DJF Database after downloading from the DTC website.
How Agencies Will Use Your Personal Information
Agencies will use your personal information to identify investigative leads in Eligible Cases, according to the Terms of Service for Agencies (below).
Agencies may access your Personal Information entirely within the DJF website. In addition, agencies will have access to matching data showing relationships between DNA Profiles. Agencies may copy your Personal Information and matching data to their own computers and notebooks, and they may share your Personal Information with members of the Agency who are involved in the Eligible Case under investigation. However, no entity outside of DJF will ever have access to the DNA Profiles themselves.
Other Uses of Your Personal Information
If your Personal Information is used to help develop a lead in an Eligible Case and a suspect is charged, it is possible that your Personal Information may have to be turned over to the defense for the case as part of the legal discovery process. In that case, your Personal Information will be outside of DJF’s control. By using DJF, you accept this risk.
Your Rights to Control Personal Information
You may, at any time, delete your Personal Information from DJF and cancel your DJF account.
However, if an Agency has copied your Personal Information outside of the DJF website, it will not be possible for you to remove it from those locations. In those cases, Agencies may continue to use your Personal Information even if you have deleted it from DJF.
Privacy and Limitations to Use of Your Personal Information
DJF will not sell your Personal Information beyond the limited service fee (if any) charged to Agencies who agree to the Terms of Service for Agencies.
DJF will not provide your Personal Information in any form to anyone other than to Agencies who have agreed to the Terms of Service for Agencies.
Limitations on Your Access to Investigative Results
Providing your Personal Information to DJF does not give you any right to know if it was used to produce an investigative lead or other information related to any Eligible Case. If an Agency discovers something about your genetic or non-genetic relationships that you do not already know, you will likely not be able to discover that information from your participation in DJF. As a concrete example, if an Agency discovers that your biological father is someone other than you believe, neither the Agency nor DJF is required to provide you with that information.
The purpose of this limitation is two-fold. First, DJF wishes to provide an opportunity for members of the Public to aid in IGG without the risk or learning something they would rather not know about their biological relationships to others. Second, limiting access to such information helps to preserve the integrity of investigations.
Despite this limitation, it is possible that you will discover unpleasant things about your genetic and non-genetic relationships by participating in DJF. For example, if your Personal Information is used to identify a murderer, you may recognize the family connections that are made public in the media, and this would potentially allow you to decipher your relationship to the murderer. Relatedly, deciphering your relationship to the murderer may also lead you to discover that, for instance, your biological father is someone other than you believe.
Security and Risks
DJF maintains all DNA profiles on encrypted storage that are only accessible to authorized members of DJF.
Even with DJF’s best efforts, there is always the risk of a data breach in which your data may be accessed and shared without your permission. By using DJF, you agree to accept this risk.
Changes to These Terms of Service
DJF may modify these Terms of Service at any time. However, DJF will provide a 30-day notice via email address of record to members of the Public who have provided Personal Information to the Database before any substantive changes take place. Members of the Public will then have the opportunity to remove their Personal Information (including their DNA Profile) from the Database before any changes to the Terms of Service.
Terms of Service for IGG Searching
By using DJF’s Database for IGG Searching, you agree to the following terms.
What Kinds of Cases May DJF’s Database Be Used For?
IGG Searching may only be conducted in the DJF Database for Eligible Cases, defined as either 1) unidentified human remains (“UHR”), or 2) the violent crimes of murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape/sexual assault, abduction, robbery, aggravated assault, terrorism, ongoing threats to the public – and any attempts at the first three crimes. Eligible Cases do not include fetal remains or stillborn children where the purpose would be to implicate the birthing parent in a crime.
Investigating Agency Access to the DJF Database
The DJF Database may only be accessed for IGG Searching with written permission from DJF following a request that meets our requirements to register as an Investigating Agency. An Investigating Agency is defined as encompassing law enforcement agencies, and defense and post-conviction attorney agencies, including IGG practitioners and bioinformaticists working as third-party contractors for those agencies.
Investigating Agencies that wish to create an account for IGG Searching are required to register all DNA samples and genetic files in advance of processing and use of the Database.
DJF reserves the right to revoke any Investigating Agency’s access for any reason, including any use of the Database for any IGG Searching that is not part of an Eligible Case.
How to Request Permission for IGG Searching
Investigating Agencies that wish to use the Database for IGG Searching must click the “Investigating Agencies” tab on the top of the DJF website and fill out the linked Application. The Application will request the following information:
- Name and address of Investigating Agency
- Whether the Investigating Agency is a law enforcement agency, a criminal defense agency, or a post-conviction agency.
- Name of the Authorized Contact(s) for the case being submitted by the Investigating Agency. Note: You must include the names of all Authorized Contacts you wish to be able to communicate with DJF. If DJF accepts the Application, DJF will only communicate with individuals from the Investigating Agency who have been listed as Authorized Contacts. Note: in the case of IGG practitioners and bioinformaticists working as third-party contractors for an Investigating Agency, you must include documentation of the relationship.
- The name and title of the individual who will be authorized to upload any DNA profiles to the DJF Database if the Application is approved.
- Details about the case, including as much of the following information as is available to the Investigating Agency
- Name of the victim (if applicable, optional if living victim)
- Location of the forensic incident (crime-scene or location of UHR), including state and city.
- Whether the case involves UHR or an eligible violent crime. If the latter, list which eligible violent crime.
- Date found if UHR.
- NamUs # if UHR, if applicable.
DJF will review the Application and determine, in their sole discretion, whether the case submitted is an Eligible Case for IGG Searching. If DJF approves the Application, the Investigating Agency will be sent instructions for uploading any DNA profiles from the Eligible Case to the DJF Database.
How the Information Collected From Investigating Agencies Will Be Used by DJF
DJF will not share the information collected on the Application with anyone outside of DJF. The information is collected to 1) maintain an internal list of cases submitted to DJF and 2) ensure that Investigating Agencies are only using the Database for Eligible Cases.
Confidentiality Expectations for Investigating Agencies Using the Database
Investigating Agencies whose Applications are accepted for any Eligible Cases are expected, where possible, to take reasonable steps to ensure the confidentiality of innocent individuals whose information is obtained from the Database.
Penalties for Non-Compliance With These Terms
If an Investigating Agency is found by DJF, in its sole discretion, to have used the Database for anything other than an Eligible Case, DJF reserves the right to remove all files from all cases submitted to DJF from that Investigating Agency. In such a case, DJF also reserves the right to reject any future cases submitted to DJF by the offending Investigating Agency.