Baylor Med School: Ethicists examine law enforcement’s use of genetic databases by Allison Mickey:
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing has gained in popularity significantly in the last few years, with more and more people sending samples of their saliva to be evaluated in order to learn more about their family ancestry or disease risk. Individuals can then upload their genetic information to a variety of public databases that will match them to genetic relatives. While the prospects are exciting, there also has been an emerging trend of law enforcement agencies using these databases to solve crimes and cold cases, raising complex questions about ethics and data access. In a new paper published in Science, bioethicists from Baylor College of Medicine examine these emerging issues.
Framing the conversation around the Golden State Killer case, which recently was solved through access to a genetic geneology database, the researchers discuss the process taken by law enforcement in finding a match and the subsequent legal and ethical questions that arise not only in this case but also for other public DNA databases and the consumers who use them.