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From Wired https://www.wired.com/story/the-future-of-crime-fighting-is-family-tree-forensics/?linkId=61773240 “IN APRIL, A citizen scientist named Barbara Rae-Venter used a little-known genealogy website called GEDMatch to help investigators find a man they’d been looking for for nearly 40 years: The Golden State Killer. In the months since, law enforcement agencies across the country have flocked to the technique, arresting a flurry of more than 20 people tied to some of the most notorious cold cases of the last five decades. Far from being a forensic anomaly, genetic genealogy is quickly on its way to becoming a routine police procedure. At least one company has begun offering a full-service genetic genealogy shop to law enforcement clients. And Rae-Venter’s skills are in such high demand that she’s started teaching her secrets to some of the biggest police forces in the US, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Identifying individuals from their distant genetic relatives, a technique called long-range familial searching, is a potent alternative to the types of DNA searches commonly available to cops. Those are typically limited to forensic databases, which can only identify close kin—a sibling, parent, or child—and are highly regulated. No court order is required to mine GEDMatch’s open source trove of potential leads, which, unlike forensic databases, contains genetic bits of code that can be tied to health data and other personally identifiable information. Currently, there aren’t any laws that regulate how law enforcement employs long-range familial searching, which hobbyists and do-gooders have turned to for years to find the biological families of adoptees. But some legal experts argue its use in criminal cases raises grave privacy concerns. They expect to see a legal challenge at some point, though probably not in the next year. In the meantime, GEDMatch is becoming even more powerful, as it grows by nearly a thousand new uploads every day. … GENETIC GENEALOGY ALONE isn’t enough to make an arrest. Investigators have to do confirmatory DNA testing, by retrieving bits of genetic material from the suspect, usually pulled from his or her trash, and comparing them to DNA found at the crime scene. But legal scholars worry that the widespread adoption of long-range familial searches will expose vast numbers of innocent people to genetic surveillance. GEDMatch, which currently houses 1.2 million profiles from folks who’ve had their DNA analyzed at places like 23andMe and Ancestry, can now be used to identify at least 60 percent of all Americans with European Ancestry, regardless of whether they themselves have ever been tested. That’s according to two recent analyses by genetics researchers, who expect databases like GEDMatch to grow so big in the next few years that it will be possible to find anyone from just their DNA, even if they haven’t voluntarily put it in the public domain. “You can’t claw back the profile of your third cousin once removed who you don’t even know exists,” says Erin Murphy, a law professor at New York University Law School and an expert on familial DNA searches. If someone gets ensnared in a long-range familial search, she says, they’re going to have very little legal recourse. “These searches throw into sharp relief how current privacy protections under the 4th Amendment are insufficient to contend with what technologies are available to police in 2018.” There’s not a lot of data yet on whether the general public believes police should have access to non-criminal genetic databases. But initial surveys suggest that the majority of Americans are most supportive of such searches when they’re used to go after violent offenders. Approval drops from 80 percent to less than 40 percent for pursuing people who’ve committed nonviolent crimes.”