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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday February 05 2020, @01:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the well-denied dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Ancestry declined to give law enforcement access to its DNA database, the company said Tuesday.

Ancestry received a request from law enforcement to access its genetic database in 2019, but the company said no, according to a transparency report released in late January. The warrant, reported earlier on Monday by Buzzfeed, came from a court in Pennsylvania, but the DNA analysis company said it was improperly served. The warrant could have let law enforcement officers have access to 16 million DNA profiles from the company's customers.

The transparency report comes at a time when law enforcement agencies around the country have cracked dozens of murder, rape and assault cases, some from decades ago, using a technique called genetic genealogy. The practice relies on investigators having access to a large cache of DNA profiles, and raises concerns among privacy watchdogs.

An Ancestry spokesperson said in a statement that the company hasn't received any followup since it fought the warrant. The company said it declined law enforcement access to its database as part of its larger commitment to user privacy.

"Not only will we not share customer information with law enforcement unless compelled to by valid legal process, such as a court order or search warrant, we will also always advocate for our customers' privacy and seek to narrow the scope of any compelled disclosure, or even eliminate it entirely," the spokesperson said.


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: 5, Insightful) by BananaPhone on Wednesday February 05 2020, @03:47PM (1 child)

    by BananaPhone (2488) on Wednesday February 05 2020, @03:47PM (#954243)

    To think that private citizens paid to have these tests done only to be used later in a massive DNA dragnet.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Arik on Wednesday February 05 2020, @04:45PM

      by Arik (4543) on Wednesday February 05 2020, @04:45PM (#954278) Journal
      What's really sad here is that this technology *could* have benefited humanity.

      If there weren't such a huge pool of idiots willing to submit their samples without demanding proper protections for their data, then proper protections would have been built *before* the database grew to become such a big target.

      But since so many people happily submit to this without demanding real protections, the database now exists, and it WILL be misused. And there's no opportunity to improve the situation. The testing companies have no real incentive to do anything different. They can figure out who the sane people are by trawling their database of suckers for close relatives. And even if we patch the problem with a law now that would let people claw their samples back, get them deleted from the database, it won't matter. Because those databases have now been copied several times, the original company that collected the data doesn't have the only copy of the data, even if they delete it everyone is still screwed.

      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by jmichaelhudsondotnet on Wednesday February 05 2020, @03:48PM (3 children)

    by jmichaelhudsondotnet (8122) on Wednesday February 05 2020, @03:48PM (#954246) Journal

    All sounds kind of theatrical.

    Note to ancestry.org staff: Infiltration is a thing and I would check into the deep backgrounds of your entire staff, the FBI is probably already there and they sent that paperwork to give you a false sense of security.

    Data cannot be protected from a totalitarian state, this is a law. If banks can't do it, and they can't, neither can you.

    You might as well just give it all away for free you can't keep it private, and even if it were ethical or worthwhile what you were doing, the best you can do is *try* to keep one set of data pure so you know if someone else is making something up.

    https://archive.is/eSLh7 [archive.is]

    decultification.org

    • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Wednesday February 05 2020, @07:23PM

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Wednesday February 05 2020, @07:23PM (#954357) Journal

      Then you should be extra careful Mr. Buttle [youtube.com]!

      --
      La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05 2020, @08:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05 2020, @08:13PM (#954383)

      Want to decult? How about MORMONS.

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday February 05 2020, @08:17PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday February 05 2020, @08:17PM (#954384)

      Data cannot be protected from a totalitarian state

      Data cannot be protected, period. Lots of people and organizations try. All of them fail sooner or later. Even on a personal level, as anybody who has ever gone through a divorce knows.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Thursday February 06 2020, @10:40AM

    by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Thursday February 06 2020, @10:40AM (#954703) Journal

    … What this means is that in one instance Ancestry fought a (so they say) improperly formed warrant and apparently won. Once. (And even then they are apparently saying that they fought it because it was improperly served, not that they argued the warrant on the merits of it and won).

    What it doesn't mean is that the next officer won't be more careful in how they apply their warrant request and service process. Or that a judge will agree with them. Or that they haven't already been served with orders or warrants that they have readily complied with because they were correctly executed.

    It's still give them your DNA (or any member of your family does) and do something wrong and you could be caught. Or end up being framed by a multi-millions to one odds chance that just happened to roll true because it is held in awe by juries.

    (One can also take the opposite position and say that Ancestry is ready and willing to obstruct law enforcement and fight to let a murderer go free because their customers are just that special.... That's the fun thing about debate.)

    So, in summary: This is PR spin bullshit that really means nothing.

    --
    This sig for rent.
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