What the search for the Golden State Killer means for public DNA databases and law enforcement

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Image credit: FLICKR/THIERRY EHRMANN

Law enforcement and genetic genealogists didn’t waste any time after public DNA databases led to the Golden State Killer suspect… A forensics company announced a service to do this analysis en masse, and the DNA database GEDmatch has already changed its privacy policy to allow for its use by law enforcement. Remember, even if you’re not in these databases, your cousins probably are.

The forensics company, Parabon NanoLabs, told Buzzfeed they had uploaded about 100 crime scene samples to GEDmatch in search of culprits and unidentified victims of crimes. Their service takes samples provided by law enforcement and processes the DNA in a way similar to what 23andMe and Ancestry do. The result is a data file that they can upload to GEDmatch.

A hundred samples in a month is nothing. If this technique works, it seems likely to become routine for police departments across the country.

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On the one hand, it’s pretty cool that murderers and rapists can be brought to justice, and families can get closure on their missing loved ones. On the other, I never agreed to put my DNA in a law enforcement database—but now snippets of it are probably already there thanks to third or fourth or fifth cousins who had no idea their Ancestry file would ever be used this way.

Read full, original post: Public DNA Databases Are Now Crawling With Law Enforcement and We Better Get Used to It

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