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posted by janrinok on Friday November 08 2019, @12:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the thin-end-of-the-wedge dept.

Submitted via IRC for soylent_red

US court let police search GEDmatch's entire DNA database despite protections

Michael Fields, a detective from the Orlando Police Department, has revealed at a police convention that he secured a warrant to search the full GEDmatch database with over a million users. Legal experts told The New York Times that this appears to be the first time a judge has approved this kind of warrant. New York University law professor Erin Murphy even told the publication that the warrant is a "huge game-changer," seeing as GEDmatch restricted cops' access to its database last year. "It's a signal that no genetic information can be safe," the professor said.

[...] More importantly, its new policy only allows authorities to search for GEDmatch users who make their information available to the police. Users literally have to opt in -- their profiles are set to opt out by default. Company co-founder Curtis Rogers said only 185,000 users chose to opt in, but Fields' warrant allowed him to access all 1.3 million users' information. The detective said the service complied with the warrant within 24 hours, and while he hasn't made an arrest yet, he has already found some leads.

DNA policy experts are now worried that this development will encourage law enforcement to secure warrants for much larger databases. GEDmatch is smaller than its peers, since it doesn't offer its own testing kits: users have to upload their own DNA information in order to find relatives through its website.


Original Submission

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Politics: DNA Databases in the U.S. and China are Tools of Racial Oppression 166 comments

DNA Databases in the U.S. and China Are Tools of Racial Oppression

Two major world powers, the United States and China, have both collected an enormous number of DNA samples from their citizens, the premise being that these samples will help solve crimes that might have otherwise gone unsolved. While DNA evidence can often be crucial when it comes to determining who committed a crime, researchers argue these DNA databases also pose a major threat to human rights.

In the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a DNA database called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) that currently contains over 14 million DNA profiles. This database has a disproportionately high number of profiles of black men, because black Americans are arrested five times as much as white Americans. You don't even have to be convicted of a crime for law enforcement to take and store your DNA; you simply have to have been arrested as a suspect.

[...] As for China, a report that was published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in mid-June claims that China is operating the "world's largest police-run DNA database" as part of its powerful surveillance state. Chinese authorities have collected DNA samples from possibly as many as 70 million men since 2017, and the total database is believed to contain as many as 140 million profiles. The country hopes to collect DNA from all of its male citizens, as it argues men are most likely to commit crimes.

DNA is reportedly often collected during what are represented as free physicals, and it's also being collected from children at schools. There are reports of Chinese citizens being threatened with punishment by government officials if they refuse to give a DNA sample. Much of the DNA that's been collected has been from Uighur Muslims that have been oppressed by the Chinese government and infamously forced into concentration camps in the Xinjiang province.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @12:34AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @12:34AM (#917658)

    If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

    If you do have something to hide, then you need to make sure your DNA isn't on file anywhere, defy any lawful subpoenas and intimidate potential witnesses to keep their traps shut -- or else.

    • (Score: 2) by EvilSS on Friday November 08 2019, @01:04AM (2 children)

      by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 08 2019, @01:04AM (#917668)

      If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. If you do have something to hide, then you need to make sure your DNA isn't on file anywhere, defy any lawful subpoenas and intimidate potential witnesses to keep their traps shut -- or else.

      Problem here is, you don't have to be the one sharing your DNA. They are using familial matching. So if someone in your family (brother, sister, cousin, etc) shares their DNA, they can use it to narrow in on you.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:12AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:12AM (#917676)

        IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE THEN THAT'S A PROBLEM!

        NO ENCRYPTION!
        DNA TESTING/PERPETUAL STORAGE FOR EVERY HUMAN AVAILABLE TO ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT WITHOUT WARRANTS!
        BAN COMPUTER/PHONE LOCKING MECHANISMS!
        REQUIRE ALL DEVICES TO STREAM ALL DATA TO DESIGNATED LAW ENFORCEMENT GROUPS!
        STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT THE USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS!

        IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR!

        MAKE EXCLAMATION POINTS SEXY AGAIN!!!!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @09:00AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @09:00AM (#917812)

        Or, as in the case of the Golden State killer, multiple familial matches 4th removed. The persons sharing "your" DNA may be people you have never even met.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Spamalope on Friday November 08 2019, @02:52AM (2 children)

      by Spamalope (5233) on Friday November 08 2019, @02:52AM (#917701) Homepage

      If you have no assets worth 'asset forfeiting' you need not fear being framed.
      If you've never pissed off someone who's connected, you may be safe too.

      No crime labs have been busted for repeatedly fabricating evidence, right? Surely not... more than once...

      It's not like it'd be less work to get DNA results for your target, falsify 'crime scene' DNA and then 'find' a match.
      Doing that from the comfort of an office chair isn't easier than planting physical evidence is it? And nobody ever did that right?

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by c0lo on Friday November 08 2019, @03:39AM

        by c0lo (156) on Friday November 08 2019, @03:39AM (#917725) Journal

        Doing that from the comfort of an office chair isn't easier than planting physical evidence is it? And nobody ever did that right?

        Just driving down costs and increased efficiency... why do you hate capitalism?

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @04:39AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @04:39AM (#917759)

        It's not like it'd be less work to get DNA results for your target, falsify 'crime scene' DNA and then 'find' a match.

        Although it's (apparently) harder to do than getting smacked with Poe's Law [wikipedia.org]. As you just demonstrated.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:23AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:23AM (#917680)

    Use cases

    Have DNA for a spy in another country. Hack in and see who he is related to.
    Invade and use to identify the pesky.
    Ditto for political reasons.

    This seems a great database for reasonable humans.
    Unfortunately, there are some less reasonable ones that make it less than great.
    Not sure I like where technology is taking the world.

    We probably owe the enterprising detective in Orlando thanks for highlighting how dumb this is.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:36AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:36AM (#917682)

    Lets see that "protection policy" stand up against the might of arms.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:46AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:46AM (#917687)

      Huh? WTF are you going on about? "Protection Policy?" "The might of arms?"

      Are you sure you're posting in the right topic?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:56AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @01:56AM (#917688)

        Maybe you're too dumb to see that any guarantees of "rights" and "protection" are completely non-existent. Kind of like https://www.xkcd.com/538/, [xkcd.com] but with legal protection instead of encryption.

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @02:16AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @02:16AM (#917690)

          Maybe you're too dumb to see that any guarantees of "rights" and "protection" are completely non-existent. Kind of like https://www.xkcd.com/538/, [xkcd.com] [xkcd.com] but with legal protection instead of encryption.

          Huh? You are apparently not bright enough to explain yourself clearly, so I'll ask again, what does the force of arms have to do with an overly broad search warrant?

          Oh, and your link was incorrect. It should have been https://www.xkcd.com/538/ [xkcd.com] without the trailing comma. And you're welcome!

          • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Friday November 08 2019, @07:37PM

            by DeathMonkey (1380) on Friday November 08 2019, @07:37PM (#917995) Journal

            what does the force of arms have to do with an overly broad search warrant?

            That's just shorthand for "we hate the rule of law now."

  • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Friday November 08 2019, @03:30PM (1 child)

    by Freeman (732) on Friday November 08 2019, @03:30PM (#917885) Journal

    At least this was done the correct way, through legal channels. As opposed to the cops just demanding access to whatever they feel like.

    --
    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @04:07PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @04:07PM (#917910)

      Why don't these sites just sell access to the police?

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @09:28PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08 2019, @09:28PM (#918043)

    I live in a country that treated my ancestors as if they weren't people. GEDMatch and Family Tree helped a great deal in learning about my ancestry past 1870.

    Sadly, I also live in a country that doesn't respect its own Constitution and had both companies delete my DNA data.

    I would have loved to learn more, but the insult of these violations is too great.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 09 2019, @03:33PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 09 2019, @03:33PM (#918281)

    If the standards were designed to discriminate between a few dozen suspects with high confidence, then they're probably woefully insufficient for such large datasets.
    I know nothing about this area, but I doubt the people setting these standards do either.

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