Limits on law enforcement use of genealogy websites?
Jun 27, 2018
This year law enforcement identified serial killers from New Hampshire and California after investigators uploaded DNA evidence to genealogy websites. Those websites showed possible distant relatives; officers used that information to construct family trees and identify individuals who met the suspect profile in terms of age, location, etc. Some privacy advocates are concerned this practice violates the rights of website users who never intended their private genetic information be used to place relatives under investigation.
“Should NH pass a law limiting how law enforcement can use genetic information from genealogy websites?”
Discussion held on Citizens Count website and Facebook page June 14, 2018
What Participants Said
Yes: 53 citizens were in favor of limiting how law enforcement can use genetic information from genealogy websites.
- “These sites will be abused by law enforcement and insurance companies. You need to pass strong privacy laws that apply to everyone.”
- “What they're doing is a violation, not only of privacy, but of the Fourth Amendment and should not be allowed.”
- “The idea of police using dna they've collected from people to snoop around family trees is just plain creepy, could end up with the police at your door for someone you've never even met.”
No: 26 citizens were opposed to limiting how law enforcement can use genetic information from genealogy websites.
- “Law enforcement should be able to use DNA material to solve homicides. It protects us all.”
- “DNA evidence is used for crimes such as murder, rapes, assaults... I am all for finding these people. If they put their info on a website they give up that privacy, just like posting on facebook.”
- “No… The whole point of you doing a DNA match is to find your relatives… It’s mostly a public forum… You know it going in.”
Other: 35 citizens addressed their comments to related questions and issues.
- Uncertainty: “I have mixed feelings. My gut says keep your hands off my info, but I also feel like if my DNA could help locate a serial killer or child predator then part of me wants to say go for it.”
- Warrants: “I expect a warrant for this kind of search would have been easy to get, considering the crimes being investigated.”
- Privacy concerns: “People need to be smart and not submit their dna....period.”
*Editor selection of actual participant quotes.