It’s 2010 and one retired business man, Curtis Rogers and one retired transportation engineer, John Olson, wanted to turn their side project into something to help other “amateur and professional researches and genealogists” profile and identify their potential relatives. GEDmatch was born from that idea, Mr. Rogers runs the business and Mr. Olson is the “science side”.
GEDmatch.com is a free, volunteer-run website for people who have already tested their autosomal DNA for genealogical purposes at AncestryDNA, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage DNA, Living DNA, tested for health purposes at WeGene, GenetiConcept, Genes for Good and others, or researching using a custom file from other sources.
Testers download a copy of their autosomal raw DNA data file from their own testing company online account, and then upload this file to GEDmatch where it is processed and added to a large database.
Fast forward to April 2018, when a breakthrough in a cold case for the Golden State Killer was made on their site and brought their site into notoriety and took it from a genealogy site to a cold case data gold mine!
The greater good; does the good out weight the bad in this dilemma? 15 cold cases have been solved by the DNA website, GEDmatch. Is it for the greater good to solve cold cases and put criminals behind bars after 20 years from the time they committed the crime? Do the criminals have rights? I personally find it very interesting, how a harmless database filled with publicly available data and DNA has brought down several notorious criminals. Will our streets be saver if a crime is committed and within 24 hours, the police can have a pretty good DNA profile of you because you are connected to a group of other DNA profiles and can apprehend you for the crime in a quick time frame. I would think this fit in the mindset of the “greater good”. Will this also help to not convict the wrong person for a crime? I think it could, DNA data could give them the reasonable doubt needed to not convict. I think DNA profiling will become the backbone of crime fighting and having a public site that continues to be updated with public records will be the CSI best tool to date.
Is it for the greater good to violate my privacy for a crime I did in fact commit? Or because I committed the crime, I have no rights? These questions are still yet to be answered, but as more DNA profiling becomes public the violation of privacy could become front and center for this new tool.
One thing to note about GEDmatch is it is not easy to use for the “everyday user”. “Using GEDmatch in this way is not easy. Most investigators who upload crime scene evidence to the site still require the help of a highly skilled genetic genealogist such as Dr. Rae-Venter. The DNA is just the first clue; from there, the family tree must be filled in using other kinds of data, including social media profiles and birth records. Still, for those who know what they are doing, it’s sometimes possible to identify a murder suspect or find an adoptee’s biological parent in less than two days.”
“Mr. Rogers and Mr. Olson hadn’t expected such an outpouring of support. Neither did they anticipate 5,000 new uploads to the site shortly after Mr. DeAngelo’s (Golden State Killer) arrest — a daily record, Mr. Olson said.”
Does the feeling of being able to contribute your data and DNA for the greater good mean more people are willing to give up a portion of their privacy for others? Is that what drove 5,000 people to upload their data after the Golden State Killer was captured. If it meant that you might be the next clue to finding a killer or solving a cold case, I think I would do that to protect others. But again, at what cost to others privacy?
How an Unlikely Family History Website Transformed Cold Case Investigations, 10/15/2018
Genealogists Turn to Cousins’ DNA and Family Trees to Crack Five More Cold Cases, 6/27/2018
Wikipedia Page for GEDmatch