A large consumer DNA test database, Family Tree DNA, has quietly started allowing the FBI to upload genetic profiles created from crime scenes and corpses, according to BuzzFeed.
Solving crimes: The FBI was able to compare forensic samples with the DNA of any of about 2 million customers of the service, normally used by genealogists to locate and contact relatives.
A spokesperson for the company said law enforcement agencies have so far uploaded 22 samples: 10 were from the FBI. At least one case has been solved, including a 20-year-old rape case involving a child.
What are the odds? Between Family Tree DNA and another database being accessed by police, GEDMatch, it means your average criminal on the loose probably has at least a second cousin whose DNA can be located. The FBI created a special genealogy team to turn those leads into arrests.
Privacy is kaput: Specialized law enforcement databases containing DNA profiles of known felons could soon be irrelevant. “We are nearing a de facto national DNA database,” Natalie Ram, an assistant law professor at the University of Baltimore, told BuzzFeed.
Family Tree DNA founder Bennett Greenspan said in a statement that police only have access to the same type of information users already share, such as names, initials, e-mails, and photos.
Read our profile of CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist who has helped solve more than 27 cases last year using a different database.