Texas legislators are considering several new proposals to restrict law enforcement's ability to access databases from genetic testing companies, placing the state at the center of a roiling national privacy debate over a technology already solving some of the most stubborn unsolved cases.
“These people didn’t really sign up to help law enforcement, that wasn’t their intent,” said Amy McGuire, the Leon Jaworski Professor of Biomedical Ethics and director of medical ethics and health policy for Baylor College of Medicine. “So, it’s a question of, what other purposes can that information be used for? And is this somehow a violation of their rights?”
Across the country, police are checking crime-scene DNA against data gleaned from popular genetic testing kits, like Ancestry and 23andMe. These increasingly popular mail-order kits allow consumers to share their DNA in hopes of finding long-lost relatives or track their family's geographic roots. But as the technology can pinpoint long lost siblings or relatives, it can also link people to crimes.
Representatives of Texas District and County Attorneys Association took to social media this week to decry the proposed legislation and how it might hamper law enforcement.
House Bills 4 and 2545 and Senate Bills 704 and 1014 all impose new restrictions for the blossoming number of companies offering genetic testing.
You can read more in an article by Matt deGrood published in the Houston Chronicle at https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/crime/article/dna-evidence-cold-case-legislation-17810225.php.