Relative age dating sequence
Reporting from indicates that police arrested Joseph James De Angelo based on DNA found at crime scenes that partially matched the DNA of a relative on the open-source genealogy website GEDmatch.
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“Because of the way this is done surreptitiously, there is also a lot of anger and backlash in our community,” says Press.
Press and Moore say they both know of genealogists making profiles on GEDmatch private after the Golden State Killer case became known.
Unlike 23and Me or Ancestry, GEDmatch does not have lawyers to protect the data of its users.
The website issued a statement saying law enforcement did not directly approach the site about the research and urged concerned users to delete their registration.
This way of finding people by DNA is new to law enforcement, but it is not new to genealogists, who immediately recognized their methods in the police’s vague descriptions. It at once demonstrates the power of genetic genealogy research and exposes the many ethical and privacy issues: Did any of De Angelo’s distant relatives know their DNA could be searched by law enforcement?
Will people want to upload their DNA to genealogy websites if it could one day incriminate their children—or their children’s children’s children?
For example, GEDmatch allows users to find profiles that match only one particular segment of DNA.
It also lets users who have tested with different services match with each other without shelling out for another one.
Using age and location information, police then narrowed it down to a single man.