Ethics of genealogy data use for solving crimes discussed

Ethics of genealogy data use for solving crimes discussed

(HealthDay)—Use of online genealogy data for solving crimes raises complex ethical issues, according to an article published online May 29 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Benjamin E. Berkman, J.D., M.P.H., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues discussed the ethics related to use of online genealogy data to solve crimes. The ethical discussion relates to issues of informed consent, privacy, and justice.

The researchers note that it is unclear whether users of online genealogy sites are aware that their are available to criminal investigators; many companies either do not inform users that their information may be available to criminal investigators or mention it in their terms of service, which may not be read or internalized. Although a person may give consent to use of his or her materials for future biomedical research, a distinction exists between biomedical research and forensics. Concerns are also expressed about the implications of genealogy service users' data for others, with data potentially leading to arrest of guilty relatives and false-positives creating burdens for innocent parties. Individuals differ in terms of their views on whether potential solving justifies the repurposing of genealogy data. Better informed consent would alleviate some of the ethical issues associated with criminal genealogy searching.

"We recommend using forensic as an investigative tool rather than a primary source of evidence of criminal wrongdoing," the authors write.

Explore further

Bioethicists suggest ethical considerations for forensic use of genetic data

More information: Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)
Journal information: Annals of Internal Medicine

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Citation: Ethics of genealogy data use for solving crimes discussed (2018, July 2) retrieved 12 May 2021 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments