Online Genealogy: A Great Way to Trace Your Roots? Or to Give Your DNA to The Cops? (Pt 2)


Hi there, welcome back and thanks for joining us for this discussion about genealogy websites and the issues that come with sharing your DNA on a public forum. As we mentioned in the previous article, once you’ve sent away for your DNA test, and uploaded the results to an online genealogy website, your DNA is available for anyone to access – including the cops. And why would that matter? Because they’re likely to use your DNA in criminal investigations. Which may not sound so bad, but could actually have lasting implications you hadn’t thought about…

Who cares if the cops use your DNA to solve a crime?

Chances are, you’re probably thinking what lots of other people are – who cares if some distant relative you’ve never met before goes to prison for a terrible crime? After all, if you rape and murder people, why should you want to protect some third cousin twice removed. Especially if you never met that distant relative. Just because you two share some DNA is not a good reason to protect a criminal. An understandable perspective, for sure. But that isn’t what we’re talking about here.

The ‘Golden State Killer’ case set fire to the world of cold cases and DNA

Do you remember the Golden State Killer? The man who committed more than 50 rapes, 13 murders, and 120 burglaries, who was finally apprehended because the cops used a genealogy website to narrow down his DNA? That case was like the spark that started a wildfire. It let the genie out of the bottle, so to speak, and since then it’s been a free-for-all. Which many people will tell you isn’t a bad thing (and in some ways it isn’t – solving crimes is the point, after all). The catch is – are they being solved correctly? Turns out, DNA isn’t as infallible as you’d think…

The “Phantom of Heilbronn” is a perfect example…

The Phantom of Heilbronn was a suspected female serial killer whose DNA was found at more than 40 crime scenes in Germany, France and Austria. She left her DNA on all kinds of different items found at the crime scenes – cars, cookies, drugs. But the cases baffled police. How could one murderer travel so extensively, have so many different methods of killing, and leave so much DNA in her wake? None of it made any sense.

That is, until it was discovered that a certain female worker in an Austrian cotton swab factory had accidentally contaminated the swabs that European police departments were using to collect DNA samples at crime scenes. It had been her DNA all along, misleading investigators and clouding facts. Here at The Kronzek Firm, our top-ranked criminal defense team has successfully defended cases where DNA was the primary evidence. It’s tough to do, but our attorneys are also pretty tough. 

Studies show that most people care more about safety than privacy

Despite growing concerns about privacy, and the fact that people get very angry when their DNA is used by law enforcement without their permission, the overall opinion seems to point in the opposite direction. People, it seems, care more about a safe community than they do about personal privacy. When Christi Guerrini, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine and a lawyer, conducted a survey addressing the DNA privacy issue, the results were unexpected. Specifically, 91% of people supported the cop’s use of DNA data to investigate violent crimes, and 75% even said they were okay with cops creating false profiles on genealogy websites to access that info!

Protect yourself against abuses of your rights and invasions of your privacy!

Use of DNA and genetic markers is a tricky subject, with laws and policies changing often. Please don’t misunderstand what we’re trying to say here – we’re not suggesting that you give up on your dreams of discovering your ancestry, or even finding out if you’re likely to pass on a rare disease to your future children. What we are saying to all of our Michigan readers is to be informed, wise and careful. Be thoughtful and deliberate with your private information. Because once you hand out your genetic data, it’s forever. You cannot take it back. But if you need help fighting allegations against you, even if DNA evidence is involved, call the skilled and aggressive defense attorneys at The Kronzek Firm today at 866 766 5245. Put a warrior on your side. 

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