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  #1  
Old 26 June 2018, 09:01 PM
Sooeygun Sooeygun is offline
 
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Default Cops grabbed a Pennsylvania DJ’s chewing gum. It helped crack a teacher’s 1992 murder

https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2...olice-say.html

Quote:
Genetic genealogy has been central to a number of recent cold case arrests. Splashing into the mainstream with the arrest of alleged Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo, the method points investigators toward possible suspects by matching publicly available genealogical information with DNA recovered from victims and crime scenes. Last week, the same science helped U.S. Marshals in Ohio solve the mystery behind a man living for decades under the stolen identity of a dead 8-year-old.
Interesting how the trend of people submitting DNA for genealogical reasons is yielding results in cold cases.
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  #2  
Old 27 June 2018, 01:32 AM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sooeygun View Post
Interesting how the trend of people submitting DNA for genealogical reasons is yielding results in cold cases.
It is a reminder that "unintended consequences" is a real, and unpredictable thing. No matter how good (or sometime, bad) a thing sounds when it starts where it ultimately leads is unknowable.

Kind of like a "slippery slope" with a worm hole half way down the slope.
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  #3  
Old 27 June 2018, 12:36 PM
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Alarm Alarm is offline
 
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I think the article makes a clear and valid point: the people who post their DNA are not the ones who committed the crime, they just allow the scientists to determine a possible profile, based on family DNA connections. The police then have to confirm this via regular investigations before they can file charges.
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  #4  
Old 27 June 2018, 12:52 PM
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Don Enrico Don Enrico is offline
 
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On the other hand, people who upload their DNA into those databases do it to connect to possible distant relatives or find out something about their ancestors. I'm not sure how prominent GEDmatch announces that it does share data with law enforcement, as well. If I suspect that a close relative of me is connected to a crime, I should at least be able to make an informed decision about whether or not I want my DNA to be part of the investigations.

If the people using GEDmatch and other services like that are indeed informed about that possibility, than I'm fine with the police using that data.
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  #5  
Old 27 June 2018, 05:12 PM
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From their Terms of Service
Quote:
We may disclose your Raw Data, personal information, and/or Genealogy Data if it is necessary to comply with a legal obligation such as a subpoena or warrant. We will attempt to alert you to this disclosure of your Raw Data, personal information, and/or Genealogy Data, unless notification is prohibited under law.
and
Quote:
Raw DNA Data Provided to GEDmatch

When you upload Raw Data to GEDmatch, you agree that the Raw Data is one of the following:


•Your DNA;
•DNA of a person for whom you are a legal guardian;
•DNA of a person who has granted you specific authorization to upload their DNA to GEDmatch;
•DNA of a person known by you to be deceased;
•DNA obtained and authorized by law enforcement to either: (1) identify a perpetrator of a violent crime against another individual; or (2) identify remains of a deceased individual;
•An artificial DNA kit (if and only if: (1) it is intended for research purposes; and (2) it is not used to identify anyone in the GEDmatch database); or
•DNA obtained from an artifact (if and only if: (1) you have a reasonable belief that the Raw Data is DNA from a previous owner or user of the artifact rather than from a living individual; and (2) that previous owner or user of the artifact is known to you to be deceased).



'Violent crime' is defined as homicide or sexual assault.
ETA: I also found a at least one more reference to police using the service to identify victims or perpetrators of violent crimes.
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  #6  
Old 28 June 2018, 02:31 AM
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Was there a warrant or subpoena in this case, though? It's not clear to me from the article whether the company was responding to a court order, as their TOS allow, whether they were cooperating with law enforcement voluntarily, or indeed whether they even needed to cooperate--perhaps the info available on their site could have been used in the same way by anyone with access to the perp's DNA.
Quote:
DNA — semen — was found at Mirack’s crime scene, both on a segment of carpeting under the victim’s body, and on her person. [ ...]Parabon used that material to create a genotype file that was uploaded to GEDmatch.

The file was set to private, meaning the data would not show up in other genealogical searches. But it did allow the team to pull on possible strands of a suspect’s family tree.
[...]

“We do not solve these cases,” CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogic expert with Parabon emphasized to reporters Monday. “We provide a highly scientific tip, and law enforcement performs their traditional investigation to confirm or refute our theory. No arrests are made on our work alone. That said, our genetic genealogical technique and research on this case led right back to Lancaster and to the suspect.”

The name provided to law enforcement was Raymond Rowe.
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  #7  
Old 28 June 2018, 04:32 AM
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I wonder if "disclose your [information]" refers to uses of info outside of the normal uses of the system. Like if law enforcement asked for the raw data off a specific individual (if that is not normally done) rather than law enforcement uploading a raw data profile and querying the system for possible matches or relatives, which seems to be the usual kind of use.
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  #8  
Old 30 June 2018, 02:18 AM
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I really hate how these stories are being reported in the wider media. The headlines make it sound like the police went to 23andme and just asked nicely for someone's DNA. GEDmatch is an entirely separate system that exists specifically for this kind of use.
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  #9  
Old 30 June 2018, 03:05 AM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astra View Post
I really hate how these stories are being reported in the wider media. The headlines make it sound like the police went to 23andme and just asked nicely for someone's DNA. GEDmatch is an entirely separate system that exists specifically for this kind of use.
If the cops have enough of a DNA sample they could just submit to the sequencing company (like 23andme) and pay the extra $50 to have the matches run. They don't need to subpoena the database in that case.
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  #10  
Old 30 June 2018, 03:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astra View Post
GEDmatch is an entirely separate system that exists specifically for this kind of use.
Is it?

Quote:
GEDmatch was founded by Curtis Rogers and John Olson in 2010, with its main purpose being to help "amateur and professional researchers and genealogists".[3][4] GEDmatch users can upload their DNA profile from commercial DNA companies, with or without a GEDCOM file, to identify potential relatives who have also uploaded their profile.[5] By May 2018, the GEDmatch database had 929,000 genetic profiles, with 7,300 users who pay $10 a month for premium membership.[6]

In 2018, California law enforcement investigating the Golden State Killer case uploaded the DNA profile of the suspected rapist and murderer from an intact rape kit in Ventura County[7][8] to GEDmatch.[9] It identified 10 to 20 distant relatives of the Golden State Killer, and a team of five investigators used this to construct a large family tree.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEDmatch

It kind of sounds like it's a very similar company, though technically separate from 23andme, that just happens to have very recently become popular with law enforcement.
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  #11  
Old 30 June 2018, 08:36 PM
Meka Meka is offline
 
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It looks as though 23andMe offers a broader range of services, i.e. providing reports on a customer's genetic predisposition to certain traits or diseases in addition to genealogical matching, whereas GEDmatch provides DNA matching services only.
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  #12  
Old 01 July 2018, 12:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
It kind of sounds like it's a very similar company, though technically separate from 23andme, that just happens to have very recently become popular with law enforcement.
I don't remember all of the specifics, but I do remember just after the Golden State killer was arrested, I heard a detailed explanation of how GEDmatch is quite different. The kind of profile that is uploaded is different for one thing. I'll see if I can find the info I heard.
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  #13  
Old 01 July 2018, 02:18 AM
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My basic understanding is that companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, etc. are where you send your physical sample (e.g. spit in a tube) to be processed. They take the sample, extract the DNA, and provide you with some sort of computer-based sequence information. You can then export the file containing your genetic information and upload it to GEDMatch. GEDMatch is more of a voluntary database of results, and does not provide any sequencing itself.
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  #14  
Old 01 July 2018, 03:25 AM
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And 23andme, and Ancestry are closed systems of people seeking matches within that system. The matches are made, as I understand it, based on proprietary algorithms that match based on specific parts of the DNA sequence. (And they don't share how they made matches, or what parts match.). You also don't get results across services, so if you're on 23andme, and that 2nd cousin you're looking for is on Ancestry, you won't find each other. But you can download your raw DNA profile from them.

So, GEDmatch and other similar services are places where you can upload your profile to make matches in other ways. It's more open, it works with the raw profile so you can get matches across services, and it specifically allows things like law enforcement uses and research uses (and there are rules about that).

People who have uploaded a profile can choose whether to make it public.

It really is quite different from those other paid services.

From their terms of service:
Quote:
Raw DNA Data Provided to GEDmatch

When you upload Raw Data to GEDmatch, you agree that the Raw Data is one of the following:

Your DNA;
DNA of a person for whom you are a legal guardian;
DNA of a person who has granted you specific authorization to upload their DNA to GEDmatch;
DNA of a person known by you to be deceased;
DNA obtained and authorized by law enforcement to either: (1) identify a perpetrator of a violent crime against another individual; or (2) identify remains of a deceased individual;
An artificial DNA kit (if and only if: (1) it is intended for research purposes; and (2) it is not used to identify anyone in the GEDmatch database); or
DNA obtained from an artifact (if and only if: (1) you have a reasonable belief that the Raw Data is DNA from a previous owner or user of the artifact rather than from a living individual; and (2) that previous owner or user of the artifact is known to you to be deceased).

Last edited by erwins; 01 July 2018 at 03:39 AM.
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  #15  
Old 01 July 2018, 04:21 PM
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OK, I've done a bit more digging myself too, and it does appear there are some differences between 23andme and GEDmatch. But I've read nothing that clarifies Astra's complaint about the way these stories are being reported, or the assertion that GEDmatch exists specifically for the purpose for which it was used here.

By all accounts, GEDmatch appears to be a meta-database to which users of 23andme, Ancestry, etc. can also upload their data, so as to be able to find relatives using other platforms. But GEDmatch isn't CODIS. It wasn't built by or for law enforcement; it was designed to help people find distant family members and fill out their family trees, and the content is all from people hoping to do that. The company appears to be a lot more receptive to cooperating with law enforcement than 23andme is, but the people whose DNA is being used may not have been aware it could be used that way. They're also not criminals who had to submit their DNA as part of an investigation. I really don't see where the reporter got anything wrong.
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  #16  
Old 01 July 2018, 05:13 PM
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What is your evidence for this claim?
Quote:
it was designed to help people find distant family members and fill out their family trees, and the content is all from people hoping to do that.
It says it was founded for researchers *and* genealogists, people are uploading genetic information to make it public available, and the terms of service specifically permit use by law enforcement and various kinds of researchers. It seems like it was designed to be a public DNA database for those who choose to make their profiles available to the public, for various reasons.
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  #17  
Old 01 July 2018, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
“I never expected anything like this,” says Curtis Rogers, who started GEDmatch along with John Olson. Rogers, who lives in Florida, had no idea investigators were using GEDmatch to find criminals until he saw the news about the Golden State Killer. “My initial reaction was I was upset,” he says. “I didn’t like this use of our website.”
[...]
GEDmatch grew out of Rogers’ own interest in genealogy, which began as a teenager. On vacations, he would visit cemeteries and courthouse to track down records of relatives. And when he got on the genealogy website Family Tree DNA, he became manager of the Rogers surname project, one of the site’s many such genealogy research groups. Through that, he met new relatives matched via DNA and spent hours emailing back and forth trying to find out where their family trees overlapped. A computer program, he thought, could compare family trees much faster. Someone recommended John Olson as a guy with the technical chops to write the program, so Rogers reached out. Olson’s program worked beautifully.
[...]
Over time, GEDmatch has become the go-to destination for serious genetic genealogists. People have found distant family members on the site, adoptees have found their biological parents, donor-conceived kids have found their sperm donors. It’s no wonder the police came calling, too.
https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/561695/
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  #18  
Old 03 July 2018, 01:19 AM
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I've been seeing the story discussed on local news and in other online pages where the stories do not refer to GEDmatch by name, just as "an online DNA database" and it is implied to be one of the two popular consumer services by sloppy use of stock footage or loosely linked "related stories." I continue to have a pet peeve around ignorant reporting related to forensic science.

GEDmatch was built with a focus on pure research and information sharing. They allow for uploading of profiles connected to deceased individuals and those provided by law enforcement for investigative purposes. They are very open about that being an accepted and supported use of the site.

The consumer-oriented services 23andme and Ancestry do a lot around research, primarily health, but they're more focused on family links as a form of social networking. You start a profile based on your own genetic information, not on another subject or a decedent whose case you are working on. 23andme provides some guidance for law enforcement but states that "Use of the 23andMe Personal Genetic Service for casework and other criminal investigations falls outside the scope of our services intended use."
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  #19  
Old 03 July 2018, 05:51 AM
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But "an online DNA database" is exactly what it is. And I'm curious why you still maintain that the differences are so significant when the founder's own statements indicate that GEDmatch was not designed with law enforcement in mind, nor does it appear they were ever invited to use the service. It's just that, once LE started using GEDmatch, the owners declined to enact a policy against it, and instead issued a warning to their users. But users who previously uploaded their DNA, or folks who are related to those users, may not have had advance warning that LE was going to do that, and they might reasonably be less than thrilled about it.

ETA: the TOS Alarm posted earlier aren't even as clear a warning to users as I would like. They say they "may" disclose your information IF necessary to comply with a legal obligation such as a subpoena or warrant, which, duh, how many companies would refuse to comply with such a court order? It heavily implies that they won't cooperate with police on a desperate fishing expedition after all their other leads have gone cold, which is sort of what they're actually doing. I think it's far more misleading to tell people that no online DNA database they might have submitted a sample to in hopes of finding distant cousins would ever turn their info over to the police, than it is to report on GEDmatch without identifying it by name and thereby allowing people to wonder if it might be 23andme.

Last edited by Esprise Me; 03 July 2018 at 06:03 AM.
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