The future of genealogy online

Genealogy is a science that has been around for some time, and ever since the internet made its introduction in our lives the exchange of genealogical data has been made easier. Although genealogical research can be rewarding there is also a downside to the developments that have taken place for the past 100 years in this field. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has been microfilming for a long time in a great variety of countries. For us in the West, almost all records have been microfilmed and have been made available for local citizens to be accessed with ease at their national archives.

Software such as Personal Ancestral File and Gedcom were invented to proces and catalog genealogical data easier. These were created by LDS Church and although the LDS Church has contributed they have been undergoing some change over the past decade. Personal Ancestral File has been discontinued and the program has been forked and commercialized. Subsequently commercialization has been going rampant the last couple of years. Data that once used to be in the archives and that were microfilmed by the LDS Church can now be purchased online. Suddenly your family´s data is available online, your relatives has been baptized by-proxy in the LDS Church. Companies like the Ancestry.com that are based in Utah, conveniently use the microfilmed data in what could be described as a major violation of privacy.

But, the standard genealogical data that can be found in national archives isn’t enough. DNA is the new hype, because we are desperately seeking for Darwin’s affirmation? For a commercial fee you can give away a sample of your DNA and in return you will get a detailed analysis of your DNA. This data will also be used in major databases by these firms, with the big exception that people willingly give away their DNA information. Strangely enough nobody seems to care. Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal get more attention than the privacy issues concerning DNA genealogy.

Imagine the possible ramifications in family live if you do a test and come to the conclusion that you have a different father than your siblings! The desire to know everything, how irrelevant this may be, is not always required. Storing fingerprints in number plates is deemed illegal in the EU for e.g. law enforcement. Strangely enough, corporations and agencies can just purchase your DNA in the future. One starts to wonder what the future of genealogy will be? Where does it stop and how far do you need to go back to realize that you are “half a chromosome away from being chimpanzee” (Christopher Hitchens).