Authorities Use DNA Testing Service to Identify “Golden State Killer” - What Does This Mean for You? image

WCIA, The Takeaway, May 7, 2018
Heather Goldstone & Elsa Partan, quoting I. Glenn Cohen (Faculty Director)

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From the article:

Late last month, authorities charged a man in Sacramento County, California as the so-called Golden State Killer after tracking him down with a private DNA test company, one called GEDmatch.  Joseph James DeAngelo is accused of a string of rapes and murders in the 1970s and 80s.

Glenn Cohen is a professor at Harvard Law School and the Faculty Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics. He explained that authorities narrowed down their suspect to one man by using DNA from the crime scene that they submitted to GEDmatch. Then they found family members on the site and were able to narrow it down to DeAngelo.

So how protected are people when they give their DNA to these companies? Cohen said, “In this case there was not a subpoena or a warrant, they just ran the search as individuals. But in the case of Ancestry.com, they did require a court-order to do it, so it’s a kind of protection.”

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bioethics biotechnology criminal law genetics i. glenn cohen