When the Golden State Killer was caught using DNA from a family genealogy website, most people applauded the news. But some people, including most Oceanside criminal defense lawyers worried about the potential privacy implications for such discoveries. Now Maryland is considering becoming the first state to outlaw such practices in an effort to protect the genetic privacy of the public.
Everyone in a Database?
One of the thing critics of the police use of DNA tied to ancestry sites worry about is the fact that while those who choose to enter their DNA on the site may consent to such searches, their family members, who can be identified through familial DNA, have not. Oceanside defense attorneys argue that is particularly bothersome when you consider that right now, more than 60% of Americans with European ancestry can be identified through public DNA bases. Most experts agree that in only a few years, everyone in the US will be in such databases -essentially giving police access to the DNA of everyone in America.
Investigative Tool or Privacy Invasion?
Proponents of police use of public genealogy sites argue that a lead is a lead whether obtained on a DNA database or a phone tip and claim searching these sites is no different than going door to door after a crime occurred. But privacy experts and Oceanside criminal lawyers argue that while you always have the option of refusing to answer police questions when they show up on your door, there is no form of consent when it comes to DNA databases.
Up until now, the DNA in databases used by police has at least been uploaded to a public site by those who consented to the information to be public. But recently, commercial DNA testing company Family Tree DNA opened their database up to the FBI -without even notifying their customers that the company had changed their terms of service to do so. When commercial companies can change these terms with no warning, it means that even those who wanted privacy for their DNA test may not get it
It’s important to note that the DNA in these databases don’t just help identify family members of a potential suspect, but even point to more intimate details like what color eyes the suspect may have. All of this points to major privacy invasions that need to be protected by state or federal laws, or at very least court room rulings.
If you believe your privacy was invaded during an investigation, your Oceanside criminal attorney may be able to argue that your constitutional right against unreasonable search was violated. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.
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