Two of Australia’s biggest law enforcement orgs are looking into adopting the DNA tech credited for finding the United States’ notorious ‘Golden State Killer’. The same tech that caused uproar over accessing DNA data without consent back in 2018.
The New South Wales Police Force and the Australian Federal Police this week said a group of specialists from both agencies, along with other Australian jurisdictions, are assessing the DNA tech, Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG), as an investigative tool.
FGG, the cops said, is also known as ‘long-range familial DNA searching’.
If it made its way to Australia, law enforcement could start using it to identify suspects and missing people when no match is found on current criminal DNA databases.
According to NSW Police, FCG uses a wider set of genetic markers than the current technology Aussie cops have at their disposal.
They said the DNA tech would allow investigators to identify familial matches up to third and fourth cousins. (Currently, they can only identify close family matches.)
The AFP and NSW Police, and their ‘forensic counterparts’ from Victoria, are now evaluating whether the DNA tech should be used in Australia.
The Golden State Killer terrorised California in the 1970s and 1980s, killing at least a dozen people and raping many more. The case went cold until a genealogy website allowed investigators to match crime scene DNA to what seemed to be a member of the killer’s family, eventually leading them to a man named Joseph James DeAngelo.
When investigators revealed in 2018 that the genealogy website had played a major role in catching the 72-year-old former police officer, some people worried what that meant for DNA privacy.
While it was later confirmed that DNA info held by privately owned companies such as 23andMe wasn’t used in catching the Golden State Killer, the privacy can of worms hasn’t resealed itself.