Sunday, November 29, 2020

Company Uses DNA to Sketch Criminal Faces

 

    A company called Parabon Nanolabs sparked controversy in May 2019 for comparing DNA profiles of criminal suspects on genealogy databases and connecting family trees to track them down and build their profiles. Genealogists at Parabon Nanolabs utilzed a free DNA database website called GEDMatch, intended to find long-lost relatives, to generate data to find suspects. In 2011, the company was granted access and funding to use a technique called DNA phototyping where a person's appearance is reconstructed from their DNA (Nature Research, 2020). In constructing their appearances, most labs search for relationships in an individual's SNPs (single-polynucleotide morphisms) and physical characteristics (Nature Research, 2020). As a result, other companies are now developing and researching DNA phototyping in less controversial ways. GEDMatch previously permitted access to these profiles to law enforcement to help solve crimes. However, the company lost its source of DNA data due to backlash of genealogists and privacy experts in a Utah case as the largest criticism received were concerns of privacy (Nature Research, 2020).

Sources:
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02545-5

5 comments:

  1. I believe the idea of this is extremely interesting! Finding suspects is important and its cool to see how easily this can be done with the help of genetics. In the situation of concerns of privacy, i think in certain situations like solving crimes it shouldnt be an issue with such an important topic like finding someone who may have hurt others in a crime.

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  2. When science is used to help law enforcement, especially like it's used in this article, there typically are ethical issues and controversy. Though this article talks a lot about the privacy issues, my biggest concern would be how the company generates the faces from the DNA and how accurate it is. Using it as a general idea would be fine for a start but to use it as primary evidence could really be problematic.

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  3. I think this is awesome! There are many cases where law enforcement has DNA, but no other leads. So this is incredibly helpful to find criminals. Of course, as with anything, there are drawbacks or short comings, I wonder what would happen if someone with a similar likeness was accused, I guess they would have to be genetically tested against the sample of the criminal. As awesome as this idea is I see it becoming very costly.

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  4. I think this could be good and bad. When law enforcement has no leads this could help them get a lead but how accurate would this be? What if they wrongly identify a suspect?

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  5. I think this is a good way to catch criminals. But, it seems a bit unethical and even a little creepy to know that if someone had some of my DNA, they could make a 3D model of my appearance. However, if there was a situation where this had to be used, I think it would be a powerful tool in catching criminals.

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