The Challenges of Forensic Genealogy: Dirty Data, Electronic Evidence, and Privacy Concerns

39 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2021

See all articles by Divya Ramjee

Divya Ramjee

American University (Washington, DC)

Katelyn N Ringrose

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: April 10, 2020

Abstract

While forensic genealogy continues to gain popularity as a law enforcement tool for solving cold cases, discrepancies in testing and evidentiary standards, as well as ethical and privacy issues, continue to plague the practice. This Article examines the investigatory role of genetic information and the various methods by which genetic information can be collected, used, or shared, including by law enforcement. In the era of Big Data, we must understand the limitations posed by the reliability and accuracy of information included in private and publicly available genealogy databases and how those limitations compete with the desire to implement valid machine learning algorithms in the fields of criminology and law. Realizing that advancements in science often outpace regulatory legislation, this Article addresses ways in which private and publicly available genealogy services can safeguard genetic information, including associated identifying metadata. Furthermore, this Article sets forth policy recommendations that consider the importance of enhancing investigative techniques while ensuring appropriate evidentiary standards and Fourth Amendment protections.

Keywords: forensic genealogy, forensics, forensic science, genealogy, ancestry, algorithms, big data, fourth amendment, law enforcement, data privacy, privacy, biometric, criminology, law, criminal justice, surveillance, genetic privacy, genetics, policy, legislation

Suggested Citation

Ramjee, Divya and Ringrose, Katelyn N, The Challenges of Forensic Genealogy: Dirty Data, Electronic Evidence, and Privacy Concerns (April 10, 2020). Denver Law Review, Vol. 98, No. 1, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3780373

Divya Ramjee (Contact Author)

American University (Washington, DC) ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

Katelyn N Ringrose

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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