A lot of news stories in this newsletter and elsewhere have focused on the recent interest by law enforcement authorities in using DNA to help identify criminals. Many of these criminal cases have been solved years after the crimes by using the publicly-available genealogy GEDMatch.com web site to find close relatives of the criminals, then interviewing those relatives to further narrow the search for the criminals.
Catching violent criminals obviously is a good use of the available technology. However, some legal experts argue its use in criminal cases raises grave privacy concerns. Will this technology soon be used for non-criminal purposes?
No court order is required to mine GEDMatch’s open source trove of potential leads, which, unlike forensic databases, contains genetic bits of code that can be tied to health data and other personally identifiable information.
Currently, there aren’t any laws that regulate how law enforcement employs long-range familial searching, which hobbyists and do-gooders have turned to for years to find the biological families of adoptees. They expect to see a legal challenge at some point, though probably not in the next year.
You can read more about the legal and privacy implications in an article by Megan Molteni in the Wired web site at: http://bit.ly/2RIpp5f.