Such data is being used by the FBI and law enforcement to solve all kinds of crimes, but that cooperation has also put DNA testing firms in a tough position, losing them privacy-conscious customers.
In her new book “The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are,” journalist Libby Copeland looks at how home DNA testing has implications for families, for law enforcement, and for how we understand our own privacy and interconnectedness. The mail-in spit kits Copeland writes about are sometimes known as “recreational,” to distinguish them from the genetic tests ordered by doctors, yet the technology’s repercussions can be far more than recreational. This excerpt, from a chapter exploring the use of quasi-public DNA databases like GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA to solve violent crimes and identify culprits including the alleged Golden State Killer, explores the tension between privacy and public safety.
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