Home pagePress monitoringInvestigators say DNA database can be goldmine for old cases

Investigators say DNA database can be goldmine for old cases

Date: 20.6.2018 

A microscopic thread of DNA evidence in a public genealogy database led California authorities to declare this spring they had caught the Golden State Killer, the rapist and murderer who had eluded authorities for decades. 
Kredit: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Emboldened by that breakthrough, a number of private investigators are spearheading a call for amateur genealogists to help solve other cold cases by contributing their own genetic information to the same public database. They say a larger array of genetic information would widen the pool to find criminals who have eluded capture.

The idea is to get people to transfer profiles compiled by commercial genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe onto the smaller, public open-source database created in 2010, called GEDmatch. The commercial sites require authorities to obtain search warrants for the information; the public site does not.

But the push is running up against privacy concerns."When these things start getting used by law enforcement, it's very important that we ensure that to get all of the benefit of that technology we don't end up giving up our rights," said American Civil Liberties Union legal fellow Vera Eidelman.

She argues that when someone uploads their own DNA profile they aren't just adding themselves – they're adding everyone in their family, including dead relatives and those who haven't been born yet. She also said DNA mining could lead to someone's predisposition to mental and health issues being revealed.

 


 

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