Maryland Legislature Bill Introduced Prohibiting Law Enforcement to Use Publicly Available DNA Databases

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.

16 Comments

This bill will be great for serial killers and other murderers.

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Maryland was also one of the states that, for a time, did not allow people to do the 23andMe test.

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I subscribe to Ancestry.com, and my account includes my DNA data.I believe that I should be the one to decide if I want to share my data with law enforcement agencies. I don’t speak for anyone else but me. I AM that data, and the State can butt out. I would allow access to law enforcement agencies.

Everyone should be able to decide how they wish to manage their own DNA data. They own it, not the State.0

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Any tool that law enforcement can use to convict a crimanal should be allowed. The only people I can think of that might want to oppose it Is a crimanal. There is no such thing as privacy anymore and if you think there is you are fooling yourself

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    I’m not I’m a “crimanal,” as one comment would infer. Unless you’ve gone through a search run amok, one can not begin to understand the possible negative consequences to family members. As for the lack of privacy, it’s up to each individual to protect their privacy, unless they just don’t care who sees their private matters. Think about it.

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Mary Ann is right, from my standpoint……”Everyone should be able to decide how they wish to manage their own DNA data. They own it, not the State.”

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Time to change the Constitution!

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    Time to change the legislators who refuse to uphold their oath of office to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.” The constitution does not need changing; we just need to elect legislators who will abide by it, and do what’s right for We the People, not big money corporations, banks, and the military-industrial complex. Political “leaders” have had nearly twenty years to protect war criminals without impeaching or shunning them (indeed, now they’re trying to rehabilitate their reputations), give billions of our tax dollars to mercenaries and other warmongers and the military-industrial complex for illegal and unconstitutional wars, try to unconstitutionally transfer their constitutional duties to the executive branch instead of fulfilling their duties, take away our privacy and ‘authorize’ spying on We the People, and none of our legislators are advocating for our right to privacy, or any other rights we had before they were taken away.

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Quite right. DNA is a personal thing belonging to each individual. If they want to keep it private, that is entirely up to them.
If law enforcement were a bit smarter they would be able to catch most criminals, without the “help” of family historians, genealogists etc. After all, that is what they get paid for!

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The state’s seem to be usurping their position as usual. It should be up to the individual who has the DNA done to decide if they want it out there. Frankly my feeling and I think the feelings of many of us is that if we can help to solve a crime please use my DNA. Law inforcement has enough things that hamstring their investigations and DNA should not be one of them.

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IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION. Law enforcement is only using GEDmatch.com for these searches. The testing companies such as Ancestry and Family Tree DNA do NOT allow such access. If you don’t wish to participate, then don’t upload your raw data to GEDmatch. If you do upload, you can flag it as Research and others will not see you.

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The allegation that there is a 4th Amendment issue involved deserves to be tested, if it has not already been raised on behalf of someone who has been accused as a result of investigations that used public DNA databases. If there is really an issue, the legislation as it was described in this story would be redundant and unnecessary, since the 4th Amendment would already provide the needed protections. It is inevitable that there will be a judicial ruling on this question at some point, and I hope it will be reported here!

Note that whatever is in the public DNA databases is not “evidence” for the purposes of a trial (the concern about public DNA databases being used as evidence is completely misplaced), or even for an indictment, but it might be used for the purpose of obtaining a warrant to investigate a particular individual. A subsequent DNA sample obtained from such an individual as a result of a warrant, and found to match crime scene evidence, would be the DNA evidence considered during a trial — and for all we know, it still might not be sufficient to obtain a conviction.

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Get a proper search warrant and I doubt many among us would mind if criminals were apprehended using the donated DNA (which we pay to have analyzed). No proper search warrant? Go away.

“The DNA issue” that I have a problem with is over the “ownership” of our DNA samples. Pharmaceutical corporations, in particular, who are doing targeted genetic research are trying to copyright or trademark certain segments of our DNA. Since each person’s DNA is uniquely their own, how can corporations claim ownership of any segments of DNA? Corporations have the money to buy off politicians who will give them the “right” to claim ownership of our DNA, or segments thereof.

The greatest violator of our right to privacy is the US government since they passed the Patriot Act (renamed USA Freedom Act when the Patriot Act expired, parts were changed, but they kept the most offensive Section 215), MCA ’06 (took away habeas corpus, the foundation of modern jurisprudence since the signing of the Magna Carta on June 15, 1215; that section was challenged and SCOTUS declared that bit unconstitutional), FISA ’08 (passed to protect telecoms from being charged with violating our privacy via electronic communication at the behest of the president or anyone else without a search warrant from the FISA court), MCA ’09, NDAA (again illegally and unconstitutionally took away habeas corpus, has not been challenged in court). Bill Binney and others working with NSA solved the problem of how to protect our privacy but still gather metadata by using his program called ThinThread. Three weeks before 9/11 NSA’s Michael Hayden replaced ThinThread with Trailblazer which had no privacy protections and overloaded the system with dross…, which failed to catch the 9/11 hijackers. Watch a documentary called “A Good American” (it’s on YouTube). Watch old YouTube videos from October 2006 and afterward when Keith Olbermann interviewed Jonathan Turley about the constitutional violations that were being passed into law by a supine Congress. And now these same cretins are trying to talk us into another war based on lies for oil in Venezuela which can only benefit US oil corporations who bribe our legislators right along with the military-industrial complex, and it looks like no one is going to stop them (US Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, ad passim)…, nor will we be getting our rights back any time soon, including our right to privacy.

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GOOD GRIEF! People need to get a grip on their opinions here. Your privacy was given up with the coming of technology and this wonderful hobby we enjoy. If you don’t want your DNA used in any way shape or form – don’t do the test! If you suspect your ancestors or links to them might have been in trouble with the law and you want to protect them – don’t do the test!
If you want privacy and shop at a new store who asks for your e-mail to send you updates of their sales – ask about their privacy rules – you will be surprised how much you are about to give away.

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    If my grandmother was still alive I would certainly not like her to indicted because of something I had done. Having said that, my grandmother was the least criminally-minded person I have ever met, but she she had been………..

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