SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – The Utah Cold Case Coalition is asking people to donate their DNA profiles to a database in an effort to solve old murders. After the arrest of the Golden State Killer, experts hope it could help narrow down the search. Groups like the ACLU worry about privacy issues.
Investigators made a break in the Golden State Killer case when they uploaded a profile of the DNA collected from the suspect to the GEDMatch registry. The website is an open source genealogy database. The DNA revealed a family member and police narrowed the search until they had evidence against the suspect.
Karra Porter is an attorney and co-founder of Utah Cold Case Coalition. They’re hoping people will upload their DNA profiles from genealogy services like Ancestry.com or 23andMe. Their hope is to give police better tools in solving cold cases.
“All of a sudden the resources available to law enforcement are just exponentially higher,” said Porter.
The organization points out that DNA wouldn’t have your DNA profile, but would use it to match to relatives.
“They just see if you happen to be related to someone who may have murdered someone,” said Porter.
Groups like the ACLU said they are concerned about how these websites are being used. They question if privacy rights are being violated. In a blog post on their website experts worried what impact this could have on smaller cases.
“The lines we draw for this case may well provide a roadmap for investigations of crimes in the future.”
The post went on to say:
“Blockbuster investigations, as gratifying as they are, shouldn’t obscure the very real dangers of government access to sensitive information.”
The coalition said that’s also the reason they’re asking people to volunteer the information. Porter said she already gave her information a long time ago and opted in to the program. As someone who works with cold case families she nows how important DNA can be.
“We’re in touch with a lot of family members, and it eats away at them,” said Porter. “It could be 40 years and it still eats away at them.”
She notes even if police narrow down and find a suspect. They still have to legally collect evidence and build a case against them.