The following is a message from Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:
Familial DNA matches have been in the news since the California Golden State Killer was apprehended due to this technology last year. Since then other familial matches have led law enforcement to make other such arrests in outstanding major crimes such as murder and rape.
A bill introduced in Maryland, HB 30, would prohibit such searches by law enforcement or others from searching DNA or genealogical databases in order to identify an offender in connection with a crime for which the person may be a biological relative to the individual whose DNA sample is in the database. See: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2019RS/bills/hb/hb0030f.pdf
Maryland is the first state to ban the practice of familial DNA searches statewide. The District of Columbia also bans the practice. The state’s DNA collection act was authorized in 1994 which included a provision prohibiting familial searches using the statewide DNA data base for such searches. The bill extends the existing prohibition to commercial databases. Author believes the search violates the 4th Amendment of US Constitution and state constitution.
The bill was heard in the Judiciary Committee on January 22, 2019. The author is Delegate Sydnor, lll , who is the Deputy Majority Whip and serves as chairman of the Criminal Law and Procedure Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Judiciary Committee.
One of the people testifying in support represented the ACLU. They proposed an amendment that any evidence obtained from familial DNA searches be prohibited from being accepted as evidence in a court of law. However, another committeeperson mentioned that the Rape Kit Commission established by the same legislature is vehemently opposed to this and needs to be included in the conversation. Del. Cardin suggested a more robust informed consent to be used. Parabon Nanolabs (the company that CeCe Moore works for on familial DNA) officers and law enforcement officers testified in strong opposition to the bill. The discussion by this panel is very interesting for those interested in genealogical data bases. There was no action nor any mention when the bill would be up for further discussion or vote.
To watch the hearing go to: http://bit.ly/2HD3Pua.