CNBC said earlier this year that 26 million people had shared their DNA with one of the four leading ancestry and health databases. That’s enough for researchers to extrapolate data on virtually all Americans, which raises serious privacy concerns. But it gets scarier.
The genealogy website GEDmatch has now been acquired by Verogen, a San Diego company that specializes in next-generation DNA testing that caters to law enforcement.
Even before the acquisition, GEDmatch’s data was used by police to track down the Golden State Killer and to solve 70 additional violent crime cases. But in California, DNA resulted in a homeless man being wrongfully charged with murder. Paramedics who treated him after he collapsed in a store had unintentionally carried his DNA to the murder scene later that night.
Verogen is assuring GEDmatch users that they can opt out of law enforcement searches and keep their information private. But earlier this year, a Florida detective obtained a warrant that let him search the full GEDmatch database.
The September 2018 Socionomist said crime-solving via genetic surveillance “offers the tantalizing vision of improving human behavior by deterring criminals. … It may prove as seductive as the eugenics fantasy of improving the human gene in the late 1800s and early 1900s.”
To learn more, read “Serial Killers and Social Mood.”
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