New privacy rules for genealogy DNA website could hamper cold cases

News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Cold cases may be harder to solve.

This after a genealogy website changed its policy. 

GEDMATCH which is used nationally by police to help solve cold cases is now requesting permission before police can access its DNA data.

“Behind the scenes, there have been dozens of cases that have been solved using this publicly available database,” said Karra Porter with the Utah Cold Case Coalition.

According to reports, GEDMATCH was used to help California authorities arrest Joseph DeAngelo, the so-called Golden State Killer.

Investigators said the former police officer is responsible for the murder of 12 women and at least 45 rapes dating back to the 1970s

His identity was never known until law enforcement used the public genealogy database to identify him.

In Centerville, a 17-year-old was arrested for allegedly strangling a church organist.

Police used a DNA search on a public website to track down the suspect.

But nationally there’s a concern that one’s DNA is being used without permission.

GEDMATCH is changing its policy.

Now law enforcement can only use its DNA files where permission is given by the owner of the DNA.

That’s why the Utah Cold Case Coalition is asking the public to “opt-in” with a click of the mouse.

“Next to each test you have to affirmatively click on the little police badge meaning ‘I am willing to have this test available for law enforcement to solve murders,'” Porter said.
 
Without that permission, Porter said suspects much like the Golden State Killer, will never be found.

“It’s going to greatly impact to do that database to solve these murders,” Porter said.

To “opt-in” visit your profile on GEDMATCH.

Genealogy private websites like AncestryDNA and 23AndMe don’t allow law enforcement to use DNA profiles unless permission is granted by the customer.

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