Posted by Eric Heath on January 28, 2020 in Website

Today is International Data Privacy Day, a global effort held each year on January 28 to create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and building trust. At Ancestry, while we focus on empowering and educating individuals about privacy and data stewardship every day, Data Privacy Day is an important moment to reflect on our commitment to protecting our customers’ privacy. 

At Ancestry, trust is the foundation of our relationships with our customers and we strive to provide transparent explanations of how we collect and process your dataincluding sensitive personal information like DNApresent choices to you so you feel empowered to make decisions about your data, and most critically, enable our customers to exercise control over their own data. 

Ancestry also publishes a Transparency Report that details our interactions with law enforcement agencies. Today, we are publishing our 2019 report.  Our total interactions with law enforcement went down from 2018 to 2019 and we’re proud to reassure our customers that, like all years prior, Ancestry did not provide any genetic data to law enforcement in 2019

Lastly, a note about the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This law became effective in California on January 1 and Ancestry took steps to help ensure that our privacy program meets the new law’s requirements, including enhanced disclosures when Ancestry customers request their data.  Also, because Ancestry does not sell the personal information of its customers, you will not see a “Do Not Sell My Personal Data” button on our websites as you may elsewhere online.  

Ancestry decided to provide the benefits of the CCPA to all our customers, not just those in California, just as we did with our compliance efforts for Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.

We all have a role to play in safeguarding our customers data and our own. Today, we encourage you to take a moment on Data Privacy Day 2020 to reset your passwords, check your sharing settings on social media, and revisit your privacy controls on Ancestry.

Eric Heath

Chief Privacy Officer, Ancestry


  1. Jim Seymour

    You say “Ancestry does not sell the personal information of its customers” – and I take you at your word for this. However, I use the Privacy Badger add-on for Chrome – and I see that there are 25 third-party web sites that are used just to build *this* page. I assume Ancestry is making money from these third-party advertising sites. Otherwise, why are they there?

    I understand that this is not personally identifiable information that Ancestry is selling. But it is a privacy problem. (Which is why I use Privacy Badger).

    In Ancestry’s defense, this is how almost ALL web sites behave these days. But it’s always troubled me that I pay a subscription fee to use Ancestry – but they still allow web advertisers to learn about me indirectly.

  2. Barbara

    I’m curious why I see a message “connecting to Facebook…” every time IO make a change to anyone in my tree. I have never, never, never authorized any connection between Ancestry and Facebook.

  3. Jim Seymour

    Yes, is one of the 25 sites that Ancestry pulls data from – seemingly on every page. Others are,,,,, and *many* that I don’t know who or what they are…

  4. Peggy Deras

    Jim Seymour and others here. Thank you.
    I agree that the goings on in the tiny text box at the lower left of my screen has been a concern for me of late. I am not a Facebook member or user. Let alone all of the other entities that slowly post in the little box while I wait. My thinking is this: I pay well for my Ancestry membership for services that I could be obtaining elsewhere for free. Consequently I want that little box GONE! Nuff said.

  5. Lynn Ulrich

    I put my tree setting on private because the info I worked hard on was changed. So now it is private. I am getting my own pictures on FB . Why these are very private. How do I know they are no being leaved to someone else. This is my family’s journey threw my eyes for my son.

  6. Roy

    I have been a member for a short time. I see the necessity of keeping the living alive and the dead ‘dead’. If you were in a witness protection program and found yourself in a public family tree on, it could be a matter or life and death for you and your family. Rules for privacy are extremely important, particularly to the living. To leave it as a rule on the honor system, is not meaningful. Have all of the members done a thorough search of your own name? I tried it last year and found that I died more that 10 years ago. It showed up in several member family trees. 3 of my siblings who are still with us were shown to have died in the same year 11 years ago. We were not asked if we would allow that. Identity theft is a reality. Any one can access the public tree information. The abilities of high speed computing and access to databases like genealogical files could answer most of the supposedly ‘secret’ information about you. It has been only a few years ago that you could identify yourself to financial businesses over the phone by answering questions like “Where was your mother born?” or “what was your mother’s maiden name?” Once the cat is out of the bag, you’ll never get it back in.

  7. Monika

    I agree with you, Roy! If you “google” my name it will tell you that I am 119 years old (it g ives the accurate day and month but not the year) and that I still live at a California address that I left behind 20 years ago. It seems that ancestry tries to gather information indiscriminately like catching fish with a net. I had to put up a fight when I discovered that they were showing in their “hints” section a photo copy of a tourist visa I had gotten which showed all the details that an identity thief needs. (Picture, name, birth date, location etc etc. Did take some time to get that one out of the “hint”/”leaf” section. They still show my immigration visa in the hint section, which, of course, has pretty much the same information as the tourist visa had. VERY IRRESPONSIBLE ANCESTRY!

  8. Jim Seymour

    Lynn Ulrich, the only way your tree should change is if you or someone else with permissions has changed it. If you invite others to your tree – and you give them “Editor” privileges, they can make edits. If you’re seeing changes without having done any of this, then its a bug.

    I personally keep all my trees public because I’m here to help others. But I can’t honestly tell people they’re wrong for keeping their trees private.

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