Originally published June 1, 2018
With recent revelations that U.S. law enforcement can - and already has - dipped into consumer genealogy DNA databases to help solve crimes, experts say more discussion of the ethical issues raised by this unintended use of personal information is needed.
It's unclear, for instance, whether online genealogy site users know their DNA is available to criminal investigators - and whether they'd object to it being used for that purpose, write the authors of an essay exploring the topic in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
"We're seeing a divide about this right now. On one hand, it's a powerful technology to solve cases, but it also raises questions for consumers," said lead author Benjamin Berkman, who heads the section on the ethics of genetics and new technologies at the National Institutes of Health's Department of Bioethics in Bethesda, Maryland.
"The idea that they upload their data for genealogy purposes and it's used in such a different way really surprises some people," he told Reuters Health in a telephone interview. "The terms of service agreements don't explain this clearly, and even if they did, people wouldn't read it or find it in the dense legalese."
The information is here.