A police officer from the Orlando Police Department, Michael Fields, has disclosed at a police convention that he got hold of a warrant to search the entire database of GEDmatch with more than a million consumers. Legal experts claimed to the media that this seems to be the first time a judge has accepted this type of warrant. Erin Murphy (law professor at New York University) even claimed to the media that the warrant is a “big game-changer,” looking as GEDmatch limited police officers’ access to its database in 2018. “It is a signal that no genetic data can be secure,” the professor claimed.
GEDmatch came below the limelight last year after it was disclosed that California cops employed its database to verify the Golden State Killer, who slaughtered a dozen individuals in the ’80s and ’70s and was blamed of more than 50 rapes, via his relatives. It was also revealed that cops have been employing it to resolve other cases, comprising the cold cases. As an answer to the backlash it received, GEDmatch altered its policy so that law agencies can only employ it to seek suspects in “nonnegligent manslaughter, murder, robbery, aggravated rape, or aggravated assault” cases.
More essentially, its new policy only lets authorities to look for GEDmatch consumers who make their data accessible to the cops. Consumers factually have to select—their profiles are set by default to select out. Curtis Rogers (company co-founder) claimed that only 185,000 consumers select to opt in, but the warrant by Fields let him to access all data for 1.3 million users. The detective claimed that the service complied with the warrant inside 24 Hours, and while he has not conducted an arrest still, he has already discovered some leads.
DNA experts are now concerned that this development will motivate law enforcement to get hold of warrants for much bigger databases.