Summary of Genealogy Databases and the Future of Criminal Investigation

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The turn of the century brought with it the fully sequenced human genome. Since then companies have offered to sequence an individual’s DNA relatively cheaply. US law enforcement have accessed these nonforensic genetic databases to identify potential criminals in ongoing investigations. Legislators have raised concerns about the violation of an individual’s right to privacy and have called for new laws to regulate police access to genetic information. getAbstract recommends this article to those interested in the interplay between law and science.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How police can access genetic information without a warrant,
  • What current legal controversies surround access to genetic databases, and
  • How future legislation could regulate warrantless access to genetic databases.

About the Authors

Natalie Ram is an assistant professor of law at the University of Baltimore. Christi J. Guerrini is an assistant professor at the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Amy L. McGuire is a professor of Biomedical Ethics and Director of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine.



In the United States, law enforcement can access DNA databases to solve crimes.

US law enforcement gained access to the free genetic database known as GEDmatch to identify suspects in a series of murders and rapes in California. Currently, most states do not require a search warrant to access such databases and companies often state in their terms and conditions that they will corporate with police. This is not the first time that investigators have used information obtained from genetic databases to identify suspects. Historically, the Fourth Amendment has not protected information freely given to third parties, such as DNA sent to genealogy companies...

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