In May 2021, Maryland enacted the first law in the United States—and in the world—that comprehensively regulates law enforcement’s use of consumer genetic data to investigate crimes (1). Until now, the primary restraint on law enforcement has come from consumer genetics platforms themselves, with some declining to cooperate, some covertly cooperating, and a handful working openly with criminal investigators. Courts have largely taken a hands-off approach, and one of the only efforts at oversight emerged from the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which issued an “interim” policy in November 2019. By contrast, Maryland’s new law—adopted with near-unanimous, bipartisan support—engaged a broad array of stakeholders and was adopted by elected officials after a transparent and open legislative process. Its success provides a roadmap for regulating genetic genealogy in a way that balances privacy and public safety, and its terms include six critical features that others should model moving forward.
Solving Crimes, Provoking Alarm
The technology at issue in the Maryland law came to the public’s attention with the high-profile arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. as the Golden State...see more