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Why using genetic genealogy to solve crimes could pose problems

Some worry that authorities could violate people’s rights using the method

By
2:00pm, June 7, 2018
a crime scene

DNA DETECTION  Police are using DNA in new ways in crime investigations: to probe family trees in public genealogy databases for suspects. The technique, called genetic genealogy, raises privacy concerns. 

Police are using a new type of DNA sleuthing, called genetic genealogy. Already the technique has caught murder and rape suspects in California and Washington. While solving the cases has given cause for celebration, the tactics used in catching the alleged culprits have many privacy and civil rights experts worried.

Closing the Golden State Killer case (SN Online: 4/29/18) and the previously unsolved double murder of a young Canadian couple (SN Online: 5/23/18) involved probing a public online database of people’s DNA and family-tree information called GEDmatch.

In a May 29 opinion piece published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, bioethicist Christine Grady and colleagues argue that police should be more transparent

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