Familial Searches, the Fourth Amendment, and Genomic Control

In recent years, police have increasingly made use of consumer genomic databases to solve a variety of crimes, from long-cold serial killings to assaults. They do so frequently without judicial oversight per the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement by using consumer genomic platforms, which store hundreds of thousands or millions of user genomic profiles and enable law enforcement to infer the identity of distant genomic relatives who may be criminal suspects. This Essay puts this practice into context given recent legal and technological developments. As for the law, the Supreme Court in United States v. Carpenter has suggested that technologically driven and expansive datasets may be entitled to the full suite of Fourth Amendment protections. As for technology, we describe here the development of a novel technology that allows users to engage in genomic analysis in a secured environment without making such information available to a third party. Taken together, we present a possible technological solution to ensuring Fourth Amendment protections for direct-to-consumer genomic data.


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