GEDmatch Sold, Will Serve as ‘Molecular Witness’ for Police

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Digital art by R.F. via Flickr

One of the world’s largest genetic genealogy websites, with 1.2 million DNA profiles, GEDmatch, has been purchased by San Diego forensic genetics company Verogen, reports NewScientist.

Brett Williams, Verogen’s CEO, said in a statement that a new version of the existing site will focus on solving crimes, “not just connecting family members via their DNA.”

“Never before have we as a society had the opportunity to serve as a molecular eyewitness, enabling law enforcement to solve violent crimes efficiently and with certainty,” Williams said.

Current and new GEDmatch users still have the ability to “opt-out,” of criminal DNA searches, which has been a feature put in place in May after outcry from privacy advocates against Utah law enforcement, The Crime Report reported.

Earlier this year, GEDmatch allowed its site to be used to identify the perpetrator of a violent assault in Utah, “bending rules put in place that were supposed to restrict cops to investigating homicides and sexual assaults,” BuzzFeed News reports.

However, those searches helped to identify suspects in over 50 criminal cases, which Verogen estimates that number being closer to 70 cases. Famously, one of those cases is the man law enforcement believes to be the notorious Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo.

Williams also said in his statement that Verogen will fight “future attempts to access the data of those who have not opted in.” Allegedly, this is in reference to the case where just last month, a Florida detective obtained a warrant to search GEDmatch’s full database, including genetic profiles of people who have “opted-out” of law enforcement searches, The Crime Report detailed.

Experts and privacy advocates said the Florida warrant appeared to be the first time a judge had approved such an action, but hopefully, with the increased security that Verogen promises for the future, people’s privacy will be respected, NewScientist argues.

GEDmatch users logging in after Monday are now required to accept the site’s updated terms and conditions. These terms include updating users of Verogen’s purchase, and also giving them the option of deleting their data from the site entirely, the statement outlines.

 Additional Reading: How Genetic Genealogy is Solving Cold Cases

Debate Grows Over Allowing Police to See DNA Data Stored by Geneology Firms, August 23, 2019.

This summary was prepared by TCR staff writer Andrea Cipriano.

One thought on “GEDmatch Sold, Will Serve as ‘Molecular Witness’ for Police

  1. This great news for the 200,000 unsolved cold case murders here in the United States, including the 8 families in the Colonial Parkway Murders, still waiting for answers for more than 30 years. Bill Thomas, Brother of Cathy Thomas, #ColonialParkwayMurders. #GEDmatch #Verogen #dna #forensics #lawenforcement

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