Jasper Ford-Monroe

Volume 72, Issue 6, 1717-1740

Over the past few years, a powerful new forensic technique has emerged. By uploading DNA from a crime scene to a civilian DNA database, such as GEDmatch, investigators can discover the genetic relatives of the perpetrator and thereby track down the perpetrator himself. This procedure is known as forensic genetic genealogy searching (FGGS), and in under three years it has cracked numerous decades-old cases once thought to be unsolvable.

Concerned about genetic privacy and discrimination, most legal commentators have thus far confronted FGGS with raised hackles. They either argue FGGS is a Fourth Amendment search under Carpenter, or that it escapes Carpenter but ought to be severely restricted or prohibited by statute.

This Note attempts to show both that FGGS is not a Fourth Amendment search under Carpenter, and that public policy supports its use to the fullest practicable extent. On the doctrinal side, FGGS is distinguishable on every point from the location information at issue in Carpenter. On the practical side, FGGS is of immense forensic value, and the existence of sensible regulatory restrictions should serve to assuage popular fears.