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Laws to Limit

Two US states have passed laws aimed at restricting the use of genetic genealogy approaches by law enforcement, the New York Times reports.

Such approaches have led to arrests in a number of cold cases, including in the Golden State Killer case, but have also raised privacy concerns.

According to the Times, a new law in Maryland requires judges to give the OK for investigators to search genetic genealogy databases, limits the use of genetic genealogy to serious crimes, and confines searches to websites with strict consent policies. Meanwhile, a Montana law is to require investigators to obtain a search warrant before using such DNA databases, it adds.

The University of Maryland's Natalie Ram, who advocated for the Maryland law, tells the Times that the two laws — the one in her state was sponsored by Democrats and the one in Montana by Republicans — "demonstrate that people across the political spectrum find law enforcement use of consumer genetic data chilling, concerning and privacy-invasive." However, Paul Holes, a retired investigator who worked on the Golden State Killer case, tells the Times, that the Maryland law could narrow the number of profiles available for searching.