State Security Versus Privacy Concerns

After forty years of unsuccessful tracking, FBI and local law enforcement agencies finally pointed California’s notorious rapist and serial killer a.k.a. “Golden State Killer” to be Joseph James DeAngelo. The man was blamed for burglaries, 12 murders and more than 50 rapes.

golden state killer dna evidence

While several people were dismayed over the fact that the investigation took 4 decades, many were amazed by how the last resort was done.

Since DeAngelo has no felony conviction, his DNA was not on file and thus, leaving the police unable to trace the DNA they have acquired from the crime scenes. In 2016, the authorities turned to public genealogy sites to find a match. They found a DNA match with distant ancestors, traced the family tree to DeAngelo, and accurately matched the DNA from the crime scenes to DeAngelo’s. It was amazing how technology comes of great help.

Privacy Concerns

However, much as it was hailed, the genius method was also mocked by growing concerns over individual privacy.

Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, raised the concern of how genetic test via open-source genealogy database could cause social discrimination. He mentioned the possibility of insurance companies rejecting people because of genetic predisposition to some inheritable disease or even just because of being related to a criminal.

golden state killer dna evidence

Such issue is the same with what Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is facing. Along with Facebook, Amazon, and Google, other companies also collect private information from their thousands and millions of users— and they share these personal data with each other for advertisement/marketing purposes without consent from the users.

Security Purposes Versus Company Greed

Despite all the issues raised, what the FBI and other local authorities did is still commendable and fine. Even if GEDmatch, the genealogy service site they used, has denied being aware of the case, the authorities have the right and power to use tools necessary for security purposes. Unlike the social networking sites’ marketing scheme, Law enforcers and other military system should be given the privilege to use these tools since it could help crime investigations go smoothly. But that, of course, should guarantee that law enforcers are strictly monitored to avoid abuse in collecting private information.

The question is: “Considering that the collecting and sharing of private information by the online companies is less secured, then if law enforcers can use these tools, especially the DNA databases, wouldn’t it be logical to assume that even criminals and terrorists might have the luxury in collecting private information as well to tighten their own security?”