Secret DNA Software Nettles Defense Attorneys


Law enforcement authorities are turning to a computer program to overcome a common hurdle in crime labs—making sense of mixed-up DNA from? crime scenes, says the Wall Street Journal. But secrecy? surrounding the software? has? fed into a national debate about how to balance commercial concerns and defendant rights. Defense attorneys want to get access to the source code of the program, called TrueAllele. They say they can't determine whether the software is erroneously linking their clients to crimes if they are unable to review the instructions the program gives a computer.

Nevertheless, the software has found a growing audience. It was developed by computer scientist Mark Perlin, who has marketed TrueAllele as a program that untangles DNA when humans can't. He founded Pittsburgh-based Cybergenetics Corp., which makes TrueAllele, in 1994 while on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University. The software's name refers to an allele, or a stretch of DNA.

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