Major genetic testing firm is sharing some DNA data with the FBI

4 Feb 2019

Image: © stanislav_uvarov/

A popular at-home DNA test company is working with the FBI to help solve violent crimes.

Minister for Health Simon Harris, TD, last week told the Health Service Executive (HSE) to examine how the personal data of a woman who had a medical abortion ended up in the hands of a stranger.

Meanwhile, Google is set to roll out a new tool that informs internet users about URLs that look suspicious. This could have major consequences for cybercriminals, who often use imposter URLs in phishing campaigns.

Apple has now fixed a major FaceTime bug that would have allowed callers to eavesdrop, with an update on the way soon. News of the bug spread on social media prior to Apple stating that it would fix this issue as soon as possible.

Read on for some more notable enterprise stories of the last week.

DNA test company working with FBI

A consumer DNA test company, FamilyTreeDNA, is working with the FBI to help solve violent crimes. According to BuzzFeed News, this is the first known time a consumer DNA kit company has provided law enforcement with access to a private genealogy database.

A spokesperson for FamilyTreeDNA said it will now also test DNA evidence and identify human remains in violent death cases for the FBI in its own lab. While the FBI does not have the option to freely look at genetic profiles, privacy experts are concerned about this deal setting a dangerous precedent.

New York rules buying fake likes and followers ‘illegal’

Devumi, a company that generated millions of dollars by creating fake social media posts and comments, has settled with the state of New York in a landmark case. New York attorney general Letitia James announced the settlement with the now-defunct firm on 30 January, CNN reports.

Devumi customers included actors, musicians, politicians, businesspeople and other public figures looking to boost their online followings by deceptive means.

James said: “As people and companies like Devumi continue to make a quick buck by lying to honest Americans, my office will continue to find and stop anyone who sells online deception.”

EU says its anti-hate speech initiative is working

The European Commission has completed the fourth evaluation of the EU Code of Conduct on illegal hate speech that was first launched in 2016.

Tech firms such as Google and Facebook are becoming better at removing hateful content at faster rates. According to EU statistics, companies are now assessing 89pc of flagged content within 24 hours, compared to just 40pc in 2016.

Vĕra Jourová, European commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, said: “Illegal hate speech online is not only a crime, it represents a threat to free speech and democratic engagement.”

Police facial recognition trial attracts controversy

The Independent reports that a man has been fined after refusing to be scanned by facial recognition cameras being trialled by the Metropolitan Police in London. The trial, which took place last week in the Romford area of the city, attracted negative attention from privacy groups.

Several passers-by were stopped after covering their faces, although the police had said that “anyone who declines to be scanned will not necessarily be viewed as suspicious”. The man incurred a £90 public order fine because he swore at officers who had demanded that he produce ID after he pulled his jumper over his face.

$145m in cryptocurrency frozen after admin’s death

Approximately $145m in cryptocurrency funds is frozen in the offline wallet of Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX. The exchange’s CEO, Gerald Cotten, passed away in India last year and was the only person who had access to the cold (offline) wallet, according to ZDNet.

The exchange was able to operate for close to a month after Cotten’s death by using stored liquidities, but efforts to locate and secure the cold funds have so far been unsuccessful. It is highly unlikely that the exchange will be able to access the lost funds again.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects