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Hands Off, Maybe

Publication Date: 
May 01, 2008
The Economist

Professor Henry T. "Hank" Greely is quoted in an Economist article about recent legislation designed to prevent the possible abuse of genetic test information by insurers and others:

The more interesting side of the story, insists Hank Greely of Stanford University, involves not insurers but policemen.

Californian officials have just announced a dramatic expansion of the state's use of “familial searching”. This controversial practice, pioneered by Britain, allows officials to pursue a suspect by examining any DNA of his relatives already found on official databases, even if those relatives are not suspected of the crime in question. The American Civil Liberties Union calls this a “dramatic expansion of police power” that will unfairly target minority groups for surveillance, since blacks are already grossly over-represented on the criminal database.