Fourth Amendment Privacy Rights on Genealogy Websites

Newswatch12's Sionan Barrett shows us how popular DNA websites are being used to solve old crimes.

Posted: May 1, 2018 6:32 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore.- We now know a genealogy website was used to help capture the suspected Golden State Killer. He's accused of murdering at least a dozen people and raping 50. 

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

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

Donna Rae Hays, a local genealogist says, "Even on GEDmatch, living people are private to a certain degree but when you put your data out there as a living person it's now available." 

Some think it's a violation of fourth amendment rights, the ability to protect yourself against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Hays says, "Somehow the fact that law enforcement used that without any legal search warrant door court ordered to do it makes people say well wait a minute wait a minute that's like violating our fourth amendment rights."

GEDmatch says they had no idea their database was tapped by authorities. But its privacy clause says your information is public once it's uploaded. 

If you want to make sure your DNA doesn't go into the hands of law enforcement when you upload it to a genealogy site, there's two ways to do it. Call the site to ask for your information to come down, or don't put it up in the first place. 

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

Article Comments

Medford
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 79°
Brookings
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 76°
Crater Lake
Few Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 76°
Grants Pass
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 81°
Klamath Falls
Few Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 76°
Sunny and very warm Thursday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

In the Kitchen: Slaw Dressing

Image

In the Kitchen: Slaw Dressing

Image

Pet of the Week: Pickle

Image

Thursday, July 18 afternoon weather

Image

Thursday, July 18 morning weather

Image

Local agencies are trying to prevent another Penninger Fire from happening

Image

Mitchell Fink wins Small College Athlete of the Year

Image

Take a Hike: Rat Pack Trail

Image

It's been 1 year since the Penninger Fire caused chaos in Central Point

Image

Wednesday, July 17th Evening Weather