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Trying on the Detective Hat

Buzzfeed News' Peter Aldhous tried to identify his coworkers using the same genetic genealogy techniques used by law enforcement officials. But Aldhous writes that while he was able to identify six of his 10 co-workers, it raised issues of racial profiling.

Police in California last year reported that such genetic genealogy techniques enabled them to track down and arrest a suspect in the decades-old Golden State Killer case. That announcement spawned numerous others, including arrests in the murders of a young Canadian couple in Washington State in 1987 and in the Ramsey Street Rapist case. But this use of genetic genealogy in law enforcement has also raised privacy concerns.

Aldhous writes that identifying some of his colleagues was easier than others. He got tripped up, for instance, by one co-worker whose mother was adopted and by another who only had third cousin-level matches within the GEDmatch database. He was, though, able to easily identify another coworker who had family members interested in genealogy who had shared a lot of information online.

Aldhous adds that he was also able to identify two coworkers because of where it appeared their families hailed from, which he says underscores racial profiling concerns.