A modest prediction: Two companies at the forefront of DNA testing for individuals will soon go from promising to virtually out of business now that law enforcement agencies have noticed they exist. From The Associated Press:
“Ancestry.com and competitor 23andme report a total of five requests from law agencies for the genetic material of six individuals in their growing databases of hundreds of thousands. … The company law enforcement demands for genetic information are rare. But privacy advocates and experts are concerned that genetic information turned over for medical, family history research could be misused by investigators – and that the few known cases could be the start of a trend.”
The potential for abuse by cops and prosecutors is immense. The AP story cited a case in which Idaho Falls police “believed” an Ancestry.com donor might be related to someone wanted in connection with a rape. A warrant was obtained, and the man’s son was interrogated for six hours – at his home in New Orleans – before giving up a DNA sample that definitively cleared him a month later. Until then, he remained under suspicion.
The Idaho Falls cops say the investigator who obtained the warrant has retired; otherwise they aren’t talking. (Nobody asked how many perps they tend to collar in New Orleans.) More from the AP:
“ ‘Privacy is our primary concern,’ said 23andme privacy offer Kate Black, who said the company has never turned over genetic information despite receiving four court orders. But Black said 23andme has so far convinced investigators that the company’s data won’t help their cases – and the agencies have withdrawn their demands.”
Keep in mind that government DNA databases already cover millions of people. If you insist on spitting for Ancestry.com or 23andme, mistakes could be made. The cops and prosecutors won’t care.