Virginia Hughes reports:
New laws in Maryland and Montana are the first in the nation to restrict law enforcement’s use of genetic genealogy, the DNA matching technique that in 2018 identified the Golden State Killer, in an effort to ensure the genetic privacy of the accused and their relatives.
Beginning on Oct. 1, investigators working on Maryland cases will need a judge’s signoff before using the method, in which a “profile” of thousands of DNA markers from a crime scene is uploaded to genealogy websites to find relatives of the culprit.
Read more on The New York Times.
This is a great example of privacy law scholarship translating into meaningful laws to protect privacy. Law professor Natalie Ram was instrumental in increasing awareness of the need to rein in law enforcement access to and use of such databases, and I have been looking forward to a session tomorrow at the Privacy Law Scholar’s Conference where we will be discussing an article of hers about databases with genetic data from newborns and law enforcement access to such databases. And if that wasn’t enough for one week, yesterday we saw Interpol’s announcement about the i-Familia program, which has also raised concerns about whether a databbase designed to help families locate missing relatives may become subject to mission creep and use for criminal law enforcement purposes too.
This is a hot topic in a year of many hot topics, and I hope readers are paying attention lest we lose even more privacy and protections.