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Forensic DNA Profiling Exposes Protected Medical Information: Study

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A new study from San Francisco State University suggests that the forensic DNA profiling used to identify a criminal may also be indirectly revealing people’s medical information, even those of crime victims, reports EurekAlert. The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a system organizing criminal justice DNA databases that uses specific genetic markers to identify individuals, is used by law enforcement nationwide, and was believed, until now, to not divulge medical information, a finding that raises medical privacy concerns.

In addition, where before it was assumed that only criminals are sampled in investigations, the study shows that the database may be scooping up private information on both victims of crime and even people that may have just been at crime scenes. SF State Associate Professor of Biology Rori Rohlfs, who led this project, warned that there are potentially huge databases containing many people that are not necessarily criminals and that accessibility to said databases varies depending on jurisdiction.  “Our paper in some ways is the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

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