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DNA genealogy testing — cool or an invasion of privacy?

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2018 | Firm News |

Coming up on the holidays, when you watch television you may see ads for genealogy DNA testing kits. You submit a sample, they send you information about where your ancestors came from. Cool as it may be, many people in Indiana and elsewhere do not consider how doing this could result in an invasion of their privacy.

Did you know that law enforcement agencies can gain access to the DNA information you send to these companies, particularly GEDmatch, and use it against you if you are suspected of committing a crime? Seems wrong, but they can and have. Numerous people have been arrested and convicted because of DNA samples they submitted to genealogy sites.

The problem with this

When you submit a sample to one of these DNA sites, your profile goes into a system that can be searched. The sample you submit is generally considered clean, and it is obvious that it belongs to you. When police upload DNA to these sites, the samples they collect come from crimes scenes which are far from clean, making them somewhat inaccurate. This could lead to needless investigations.

How is this legal?

There are some DNA testing companies that do require the consent of the person submitting the DNA sample. Some do not, and this allows law enforcement to use their services and check their databases. As these are not medical records but public databases, there are currently no laws to prevent police from using these databases to search for criminals. That may change in the future.

Why fight this practice?

People use genealogy DNA testing services for personal reasons. They want to know more about their families and where they come from. They do not use it to help the police.

You may view this practice, as is currently stands, as a violation of your privacy and rights. It can easily result in unreasonable searches and seizures. It can result in unwarranted arrests and convictions. While finding those who commit crimes is an honorable quest, the science of DNA testing is not perfect to count on it 100 percent.

What to do if a DNA test is behind your arrest?

If you find yourself charged with a crime due to the results of a genealogy DNA test you submitted of your own will and for your own purposes, you may be able to fight the results. Whether a lab error or the ability to establish the collection of data violated your rights and was an invasion of your privacy, you may be able to have the DNA evidence thrown out. Your legal counsel may have other defense strategies as well that can prove beneficial to your case.

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