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Forensic DNA Education for Law Enforcement Decisionmakers

Privacy Rights

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Privacy Rights

Those who oppose allowing law enforcement agencies' use of familial searching believe that it infringes on 4th Amendment (and privacy) rights of people as the result of their relative's crimes, and that it disproportionately discriminates against minorities.21,22,23 However, a federal court recently observed,


"It is not clear that familial comparisons raise a constitutional privacy issue or, if they do, whose interests are violated…. The familial match is not implicated: by definition the match is not perfect, so the government knows that the match is not the perpetrator. It is questionable whether the rights of the perpetrator (if ultimately identified through the use of familial comparisons) are violated." United States v. Pool, 2010 DJDAR 14485.


One informed commentator, David Lazer, has responded this way, "If this information is going to be useful for solving a crime, should we not use the data because they're demographically unrepresentative?"24

21 Daniel J. Grimm The Demographics of Genetic Surveillance: Familial DNA Testing and the Hispanic Community PDF download: 116kB • Visit the Columbia Law Review »
22 Police and Security News Sept/Oct 2008 V24, I5, pp 56-60: Familial DNA: It's All in the Family PDF download: 320kB • Visit the Denver District Attorney »
23 Genetic Information in Minnesota: A Report to the Minnesota State Legislature PDF download: 3.7MB • Visit the Minnesota North Star
24 The Boston Globe: "Whodunit? Family members' DNA may lead investigators to the answers, but using it as a forensic technique brings up some troubling questions" »

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