DNA databases can send the police or hackers to your door, study finds

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More than 60 percent of Americans who have some European ancestry can be identified using DNA databases — even if they have not submitted their own DNA, researchers reported Thursday.

Enough people have done some kind of DNA test to make it possible to match much of the population, the researchers said. So even if you don’t submit your own DNA, if a cousin does, it could lead people to you.

They said their findings, published in the journal Science, raise concerns about privacy. Not only could police use this information, but so could other people seeking personal information about someone.

Earlier this year, police said they used DNA from a public database to catch former California police officer Joseph DeAngelo, suspected of being the “Golden State Killer”.

Image:
Defense attorney Joe Cress stands next to his client Joseph James DeAngelo, who appears in Sacramento Superior Court on June 1, 2018, in Sacramento, California. DeAngelo was caught when police got DNA off a tissue he threw into a trash can. It matched samples taken from the scenes of dozens of rapes and murders across California.
Jos? Luis Villegas / The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool

A distant cousin had taken a commercial DNA sequencing test, and those sequences were used to narrow the suspect list down to DeAngelo.

DeAngelo was caught when police got DNA off a tissue he threw into a trash can. It matched samples taken from the scenes of dozens of rapes and murders across California.



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