CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Murphy on Familial Searches of DNA Databases

FacultyPhoto.php Erin Murphy  (University of California, Berkeley, School of Law) has posted Relative Doubt: Familial Searches of DNA Databases on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

As DNA databases have grown in size, a search method known as familial or kinship matching has also become more prevalent. Familial searches use databases to locate possible relatives of the source of a crime-scene sample in cases in which no exact match was found. Because this kind of searching focuses attention only upon possible matches to innocent persons with relatives in a DNA database, while ignoring possible matches to innocent persons without such relatives, it raises serious concerns. This Article argues against familial search practices on a variety of grounds, including claims related to equality, accuracy, privacy, racial discrimination, and democratic accountability. Should such arguments not prove persuasive, however, it then sets forth recommendations for restrictions on familial searching aimed at ameliorating their possible iniquitous effects.

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