The arrest of the Golden State Killer has sparked debates about the ethics of government representatives using a private genealogy database for an official investigation and whether that violates the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations maintains an integrated database of genetic data expressly for use by law enforcement and the military. It’s called CODIS (for Combined DNA Index System). The DNA markers in the CODIS database were selected specifically for one-to-one identification and to have no biomedical relevance.
Comparing CODIS with GEDmatch is an interesting exercise; the criminals in the CODIS database have more privacy protections from government intrusion than do the genealogists at GEDmatch.
|maintained by||FBI||private citizens|
|purpose of database||criminal, missing persons, & military investigations||genealogy|
|source of data||accredited forensic laboratories||any lab with the right equipment|
|# of participants||> 15 million||< 1 million|
|DNA participants||convicted offenders, missing persons, forensic samples, military||genealogists & their relatives|
|participation||mandatory for felons||voluntary|
|profile deletable||not for felons||yes|
|contact information||no||email addresses|
|marker type||20 atDNA STRs; mtDNA or ySTRs in some cases||600,000+ SNPs|
|who can access it||state, federal, and military officials||anyone, anywhere|
|use for familial searching||legal in 12 states with varying restrictions; banned in Maryland, DC||no restrictions|
|limitations||close relatives only||close to distant relatives|