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Police and Consumer Genetics Databases

Both and 23andMe have received requests from law enforcement agencies for access to their DNA databases, the Associated Press reports.

Together, the consumer genetics companies have fielded five such demands. gave police access to one person's information for a rape and murder case in Idaho, while 23andMe persuaded officials to withdraw four requests.

The companies note that such requests are uncommon, the AP adds. They also point out that they analyze different regions of customers' genomes than forensic investigators do, limiting the usefulness of their data for forensics.

Experts, though, tell the news agency that requests for access may become more frequent.

In the Idaho case, Christopher Tapp had been convicted and sentenced in the 1996 rape and murder of Angie Dodge, the AP reports. He is appealing his conviction, arguing that his confession was coerced.

Investigators continued to work on the case as they thought another suspect was involved and as a DNA sample belonging to neither Tapp nor Dodge was recovered, the AP says. Investigators sent that sample to Ancestry, which ran it through its partially public database and got a close, but not exact, match.

Investigators then sought a warrant to compel Ancestry to provide the name of that match, thinking that the assailant was a close relative. While the Mississippi-based customer was too old to be their suspect, his son was and he had connections to the Idaho area. But after police tested Michael Usry Jr.'s DNA, he was not a match to the crime scene sample, the AP says. The Scan has more on the case here.

After this case, both Ancestry and 23andMe said they would only provide customer genetic data under court order, the AP adds.