With just a single warrant, a Florida detective obtained access to the DNA profiles of more than a million people — and experts say the case sets a dangerous precedent.
Ancestry.com and 23andMe are the largest consumer DNA sites, holding genetic data on 15 million and 10 million people, respectively. However, they aren’t the only DNA sites out there — a smaller service, GEDmatch, currently has about 1.3 million users, each of whom is able to search the site’s entire database.
In May, GEDmatch changed its policies so that law enforcement officials could only search the profiles of people who opted into such searches, which GEDmatch co-founder Curtis Rogers recently told The New York Times about 185,000 users have done.
Prior to the change, police famously used GEDMatch to crack the case of the Golden State Killer, resulting in the arrest of a suspect in April 2018. Detective Michael Fields had also used the database to solve a case prior to the May change and was hopeful it might help with a new one he was investigating in July.
To that end, Fields decided to ask a Florida judge to grant him a warrant that would override the new policy, allowing him to search GEDmatch’s entire database, including users who hadn’t opted in — and Judge Patricia Strowbridge did just that, the detective announced at a recent police convention, according to the NYT….