Report: Half of Americans OK if DNA testing companies share user data to solve crimes

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Almost half of Americans don’t mind if DNA submitted for ancestry testing is used to solve crimes, according to a Pew Research Center report.

Forty-eight percent of Americans say it’s acceptable for DNA testing companies to share customers’ genetic data with law enforcement for that purpose. The survey, conducted from the responses by U.S. adults in June 2019, also found that one-third say it’s unacceptable, while 18% are unsure.

Popular DNA-testing services like AncestryDNA, 23andMe and MyHeritage market their products so people can trace their family history from across the globe. Only 16% of Americans, however, have used mail-in DNA testing services like these.

Of the American adults who have used DNA mail-in services, 51% say the use of genetic data by law enforcement to solve crime is acceptable. While 56% of adults ages 50 and older say it’s okay to share submitted DNA, only 42% of those younger than 50 agree.

“There is a smaller, yet statistically significant, difference by party — Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more likely than Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents to approve of the data use (52% vs. 47%),” the survey report says.

Crime solving using the assistance of DNA testing data brought national attention in 2018 after California law enforcement relied on genealogy sites and databases to locate and arrest a man suspected to be the Golden State Killer. Using genetic genealogy to crack cold cases has made headlines, but concerns about its reliability linger.

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