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Federal Policy Will Restrict DNA Genealogy Investigations

By October 8, 2019 No Comments

On November 1, a new U.S. Dept. of Justice policy will take effect “governing when police can use genetic genealogy to track down suspects in serious crimes,” reports Science magazine. Among the provisions of the policy: “Police should first exhaust traditional crime solving methods, including searching their own criminal DNA databases”; “police can’t quietly upload a fake profile to a genealogy website, as some have done in hopes of finding a suspect’s distant relatives, without first identifying themselves[;] the site itself must have informed its users that law enforcement agencies may search their data”; and criminal suspects’ relatives “must give their informed consent unless police have obtained a search warrant” to “take a DNA sample[…]—from a discarded cup or tissue, for example—to help home in on a suspect.” According to Natalie Ram of the University of Maryland School of Law, “This policy is a big step forward in addressing some of the most pressing privacy concerns in this area.”