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How genetic info is used to solve crimes – Source

In her new book “The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are,” journalist Libby Copeland looks at how home DNA testing has implications for families, for law enforcement, and for how we understand our own privacy and interconnectedness. The mail-in spit kits Copeland writes about are sometimes known as “recreational,” to distinguish them from the genetic tests ordered by doctors, yet the technology’s repercussions can be far more than recreational. This excerpt, from a chapter exploring the use of quasi-public DNA databases like GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA to solve violent crimes and identify culprits including the alleged Golden State Killer, explores the tension between privacy and public safety.

The use of genetic information to solve crimes, however worthy, has to be balanced with legitimate concerns on the side of protecting privacy, computational biologist and MyHeritage chief science officer Yaniv Erlich told me. The problem is one of trust. “Genetic…

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