Elizabeth Joh on Police and Family Tree Investigations

Professor Elizabeth Joh teaches criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, and policing at the U.C. Davis School of Law. Her research focuses on the regulation of the police, with special emphases on DNA evidence collection, and new surveillance technologies.

Recently, Professor Joh wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, Want to See My Genes? Get a Warrant, regarding a new and highly controversial investigative technique used by police. Using publicly available genetic details from family tree websites, police officers are able to find criminal suspects based on information provided by distant relatives.

Joh argues, “just because technology allows for a new type of investigation doesn’t mean the government should be allowed to use it in all cases.”  For instance, Joh warns that while some support the technique for cold cases, there really is no limit for how police can use genetic information and under what circumstances. Furthermore, the technique raises issues of meaningful consent and of personal privacy.

You can read this fascinating article here. For more information on Professor Joh’s work and EPIC, please visit www.epic.org. Defend Privacy. Support EPIC.