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Guiding Genetic Genealogy

At a recent conference, law enforcement officials, researchers, and genealogists pondered the future of genetic genealogy to help solve crimes, the New York Times reports.

During the 30th International Symposium on Human Identification, a Department of Justice representative presented guidelines for the technique's use, it adds. The policy recommends that federal law enforcement officials only turn to genetic genealogy if the case in question is a violent crime or is trying to identify human remains and if no matches have been found in CODIS, the FBI database. It also suggests investigators limit their searches to genealogy databases that explicitly tell their members that police may use the site. This led attendees to wonder, though, how these guidelines would be enforced as there is no oversight of how genetic genealogists do their work, the Times notes.

Attendees also tell the Times that the key to continued use of genetic genealogy is to establish and maintain public trust. "This depends on having the support of regular people," Diahan Southard, who held a workshop on genetic genealogy at the meeting, says. "If you can't convince the public that it's safe, it's going to go away."