Utah state legislator proposes a bill to prevent law enforcement from using data from consumer DNA testing

+7 votes
118 views

One State May Become the First to Ban Law Enforcement Use of Genealogy Databases -  https://www.routefifty.com/public-safety/2020/01/utah-dna-databases/162544/

Excerpt:

A state lawmaker in Utah wants police to stop this practice. Legislation proposed by Rep. Craig Hall, a Republican, would prevent mass searches of consumer DNA databases, which Hall referred to as “fishing expeditions.”

“We understand that law enforcement wants to use these tools, but the ends don’t justify the means,” Hall said. “We don’t need a surveillance state to catch the bad guys.”

Hall said he believes that law enforcement searches of DNA databases violate the particularity requirement of the Fourth Amendment, which courts have interpreted as requiring law enforcement to obtain search warrants and describe in detail to a judge the evidence they plan to gather when invading someone's privacy.

in The Tree House by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Hmm, what would be the impact of a single state having a state law on this activity?  Would it apply only to law enforcement entities in Utah, or only to data on Utah citizens, or to Utah residents who become persons of interest in a crime?  Or is there a broader implication?
I wonder how he feels about fingerprint databases.
I don't think law enforcement has free reign of the DNA databases. It is my understanding that a warrant has to be in place for specific parameters on the search and they can only see the matches for that particular warrant.
Good in my book and hope that others follow. The various DNA testing services seem to cave if someone says boo. The privacy concern is not so much with law enforcement but once gov't has its hands on anything it gets passed around to the entire alphabet soup (and into the private sector where medical insurance would be a tremendous concern)...even when restrictions are supposedly in place.

1 Answer

+3 votes
There are currently only two Databases that have been public about LEO (Law Enforcement) searches of their databases. FTDNA and GEDmatch.
by Mags Gaulden G2G6 Pilot (551k points)
Yep; and let's not forget that it isn't our direct-to-consumer, inexpensive, genotyping microarray tests that are used as evidence in courts of law anyway. SNPs and presumed contiguous segments do not make for very precise individual identification. That comes from the autosomal STRs tested and cataloged in CODIS/NDIS and other, international databases.

The U.S. "DNA Identification Act" was established in 1994 and formalized use of the FBI's NDIS database, and also CODIS, the combined database of national, state, and local DNA references (yep; many large cities have their own databases that tie into CODIS, referred to collectively as LDIS). And it isn't just convicted felons whose DNA results are entered. Practices vary by state, but people not convicted--even exonerated--may have been swabbed and the results uploaded to CODIS; any number of "persons of interest" in a violent felony may have been swabbed and uploaded; DNA samples taken from a crime scene and sequenced may be entered whether the samples proved to be material to the case or not; and the most recent database in CODIS is one explicitly for missing persons: a push has been underway for a few years to make this as inclusive as possible, so the swabs done of immediate family members in a missing persons case may go into CODIS.

At the end of the day, the way law enforcement--or more accurately, folks like CeCe Moore--use our genealogy testing databases is no different than the way our Adoption Angels use them. They look for hints about who might be related to whom, and use that as a way to try to locate the "person of interest." Nobody has ever been, or will ever be, convicted of a crime based on our $59 SNP tests.

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