Privacy and the search for suspects using forensic genetic genealogy
30 Apr 2021 4:05 am
“There’s no such thing as anonymity anymore” quotes Nathan Scudder of the University of Technology in a recent article inside the Privacy Law Bulletin. He asks, “…are we now at a point where — if enough investigative time and effort is applied —can almost any suspect can be identified from their discarded DNA ?”
The increase in publicly available genetic data presents investigators of cold cases with potential leads to criminal suspects and the bittersweet opportunity to return unidentified human remains to their grieving families.
But does public interest outweigh privacy concerns as the increasing popularity of recreational DNA testing makes it likely that anyone leaving genetic material at a crime scene will also leave clues as to their distant relatives?
As technology changes so can the privacy lens through which we view the potential for that new technology to deliver benefit to society. Commentators have written about the rise of “Big Data policing” in recent years, but the underlying principle has not changed since the detective and their notebook.
The tools at the disposal of an investigator have dramatically increased information-gathering and analysis capabilities.
These new capabilities can help find suspects and solve crimes but — almost invariably — there is a trade-off with privacy.
You may also like to read this article: Forensic Science in Criminal Trials: Is It a Double-Edged Sword?
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