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Can family DNA testing be used as evidence?

Family DNA testing is extremely popular these days as people seek out information on their histories and backgrounds. It can also be used by law enforcement in search of DNA evidence in order to solve crimes and apprehend suspects. ScienceNews.org explains more about this practice so you can rest assured of your rights according to the law. 

How genetic information is used

Police scouring the genetic testing databases aren't looking for the suspects themselves per se. Instead, they're in search of family relations, which can be used to link family members until a suspect is identified. This requires having access to family DNA testing databases, which many companies are granting. A high-profile case involving the apprehension of a man alleged to be the Golden State killer has resulted in more and more companies opening up their databases to law enforcement. 

Limitations to information access

Despite the fact that this process has become more and more popular, the police are restricted in the information they can access. For example, law enforcement is only allowed to search for information related to a DNA sample they already have in their possession. That means that the police can't simply perform a blanket search of a database in search of subjects. Any information that is sought typically requires a warrant to be issued by law enforcement. 

How information can be protected

Some people are naturally concerned that this process can be misused, or that there might be mistakes when it comes to identifying genetic information. In this case, people who use family genetic testing can state that they want their information to remain private and unsearchable, which prevents law enforcement from accessing it altogether. They can also ask that their information is taken down from the site. However, this doesn't mean that it will be completely protected from searches. You can look into the practices of a particular company to better understand their policy on sharing info. 

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