Cops are increasingly turning to commercial gene-testing services to solve crimes, using a process called “genetic genealogy” that uses the records of people who are near-matches for DNA from crime scenes to zero in on suspects; that’s how they caught the Golden State Killer, but cops don’t just ask genetics services for data when they’re after killers, sometimes they deputize these services to help them solve petty crimes.
Services like 23andme and Gedmatch are amassing titanic databases of genomes from the public and it only takes one person from your family to implicate everyone else they’re related to in police dragnets.
What’s more, the commercial services reserve the right to act unilaterally in sharing their data, and this “voluntary” sharing is effectively unregulated. Even where services let you opt out of having your DNA used by cops, your relatives may not be so conscientious, making your decision irrelevant.
Without legal limits, genetic genealogy will become a more popular tool for the police. Rather than wait for the courts to deal with difficult and novel issues about genetic surveillance and privacy, state legislatures and attorneys general should step in and articulate guidelines on how far their law enforcement agencies should go. Congress and the Federal Trade CommissionThe United States’ primary consumer protection agency, the F.T.C. collects complaints about companies, business practices and identity theft under the F.T.C. Act and other laws. The agency brings actions under Section 5 of the F.T.C. Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive trade practices. GlossaryClose X should take further steps to protect the privacy and security of consumer genetic data.
Want to See My Genes? Get a Warrant [Elizabeth Joh/New York Times]
(via Marginal Revolution)
(Image: Cryteria, CC-BY)
Mysterious New Orleans “anti-crime” camera emblazoned with NOPD logos outside surveillance contractor’s house is disavowed by NOPD
New Orleans is festooned with police cameras, the legacy of a secret partnership with the surveillance contractor Palantir, which used New Orleans as a covert laboratory for predictive policing products.
Eccentric eyewear maker Scott Urban first kickstarted his “Reflectacles” frames in 2016; the frames used emedded retroreflectors to make them throw back tons of light, making them highly visible (and great for things like night cycling); subsequent iterations beefed up the IR reflectivity, which blinded many CCTV surveillance cameras (they use IR to paint low-light […]
Hong Kong’s previous mass-protest uprisings — 2014’s Occupy Central, 2016’s Umbrella Revolution — were ultimately smashed by the state through a combination of violent suppression and electronic surveillance, greatly aided by the hierarchical structure of the protest movements (which made it possible to decapitate them by arresting their leaders) and their internal divisions and infighting.
The guys at KeySmart hit it big on Kickstarter in 2013 with their streamlined alternative to keychains, and they haven’t stopped innovating since. For Independence Day, they’re celebrating that good old American entrepreneurship with a deal on all their best stuff: Right now, you can take an extra 15% off the final price listed on […]
As long as there are cabinets to be fixed or cheap dressers to assemble, you’re going to encounter screws in tight corners where a screwdriver just won’t fit. It’s enough to make you give up on any project, which is why the Flip Out Rechargeable Screwdriver is poised to be the go-to tool in any […]
Remember Polaroids? The tactile joy of waving around one of those little plastic pictures, the anticipation of waiting for it to develop: These have been pleasures that some of us thought we’d only be telling our confused children about. But think again. Polaroid’s got a batch of great new bundles and special editions for its […]