Genealogy websites

Fourth Amendment Privacy Rights on Genealogy Websites

GRANTS PASS, Oregon. – We now know that a genealogy website was used to help capture the alleged Golden State killer. He is accused of murdering at least a dozen people and raping 50.

GEDmatch is a website where you can download your genetic history to find relatives.

You might be wondering if you have your own genes. A local genealogist says yes, until you make your chromosomes public.

Donna Rae Hays, a local genealogist, says, “Even on GEDmatch, living people are private to a certain extent, but when you publish your data as a living person, it’s now available. ”

Some believe this is a violation of Fourth Amendment rights, the ability to protect you from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Hays says: “Somehow the fact that law enforcement used this without a legal search warrant being ordered by the court makes people say okay, wait. a minute, wait a minute, that’s like violating our Fourth Amendment rights. “

GEDmatch says they had no idea their database had been exploited by authorities. But its confidentiality clause says your information is public once it’s uploaded.

If you want to make sure that your DNA doesn’t fall into the hands of law enforcement when you upload it to a genealogy site, there are two ways to do it. Call the site to request that your information be transmitted, or do not post it in the first place.

“We understand that the GEDmatch database has been used to help identify the [suspected] Golden State Killer, ”the GEDmatch said in a statement. “Although we have not been approached by law enforcement or anyone about this matter or the DNA, it has always been GEDmatch’s policy to inform users that the database can be used. for other purposes. “


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