This article is part of Future Tense, a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University. On March 20, Future Tense will host an event in Washington, D.C., about how law enforcement is using genetic genealogy—thanks to consumer DNA testing—to solve crime. For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America website.
Imagine the federal government enacted a law requiring all U.S. residents to provide law enforcement with their DNA profile so police could solve more crimes. Would you be OK with such a system?
Imagine instead that the federal government established a database for which people could volunteer genetic profiles—but that the decision about whether to volunteer your DNA belonged not to you, but to your third cousin. Would you be OK with that?