Investigators have used genealogy sites to solve a string of cold cases in recent years, but the US hasn’t really had a firm stance on how and when to use those sites. There’s now a basic framework in place, however. The U.S. Justice Department has established interim rules that determine how this forensic genetic genealogy can be used to tackle unsolved violent crimes. Officials portray it as striking a balance between the desire to solve crimes with the protection of privacy and civil freedoms.
The policy generally limits law enforcement to considering genealogy sites when a candidate sample belongs to a possible culprit, or when a likely homicide victim is unidentified. Prosecutors can greenlight the use of these sites for violent crimes beyond murder and sexual assault, but only when the circumstances create a “substantial and ongoing threat” to the public. Agencies can’t use the sites unless a sample has first been uploaded to the FBI’s DNA profile database and hasn’t produced a match. Also, the investigators in the relevant jurisdiction need to have followed “reasonable investigative leads,” and case info need to be entered into national databases for missing people and violent criminals.
There’s more even after meeting these rules. You can read more in an article by Jon Fingas in the Engadget web site at: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/25/justice-department-rules-for-genealogy-site-use/.