In trying to get in touch with your roots, you might find your privacy at risk. Recently, a detective got access to a private DNA website and its million user database with a court warrant, setting a dangerous precedent.
GEDMatch might not have the 15 million user database that Ancestry.com has, but it still holds DNA information from about 1.3 million users – and one cop got unrestrained access to it.
Detective Michael Fields from Florida had used GEDMatch to solve a case this spring, only the company changed its policy afterwards. It granted access to law enforcement officials only to accounts that had expressly opted into such a public DNA search.
That mean access to less than 200,000 DNA profiles.
So, when the need arose again, Detective Fields solicited a search warrant for the entire database. The judge in case granted him one which ultimately didn’t help the detective solve the case, only generated new leads.
By setting this precedent, the judge has validated police’s right to get access to DNA databases that could have not 1 or 2 but tens of millions of accounts, whether the people registered have consented to it or not.
Authorities are on a slippery slope here, especially since not all information found in these databases is accurate. As you can imagine, this could not only delay an investigation but could result in the arrest of an innocent person.