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What? Some websites store DNA, PD can request it

Posted at 8:46 PM, May 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 02:25:34-04

Legal expert James Goodnow says right now companies like ancestry.com and 23andme.com are storing millions and millions of DNA samples.

“Law enforcement can go to those companies with a search warrant and cross-reference those DNA samples to find genetic criminal suspects,” said Goodnow.

Goodnow says police can even get your DNA even if you never signed up. 

It happened last year in Louisiana. Goodnow says Idaho Police wanted to solve a cold case from the 1990’s.

“They were able to target a family,” says Goodnow. “So a father had given a sample to ancestry.com and the cops were able to determine that the son was a suspect.”

Eventually the case fell apart and the suspect was cleared.

Goodnow says you can go onto those websites and tell them not to store your DNA information. You can also opt out of the databases. 

However, it’s not the default. You have to manually go in and change your privacy settings.

Goodnow says you can also download your raw DNA and then request the destruction of your DNA sample and your account.

Both Ancestry.com and 23andme.com say it is very rare to receive a request from law enforcement.

“Over the 10-year lifespan of the company, we've only had four law enforcement inquiries," said Andy Kill, a spokesperson for 23andme.com. “Of the four inquiries, none have been from Arizona-based law enforcement.”

To learn more:

Read Ancestry.com's transparency report

Read 23andme.com's transparency report: