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10 December 2019

GEDMatch is sold to Verogen

In the latest twist in the saga that has been unfolding since 2018, when DNA was used to catch the Golden State Killer, it was announced this week that GEDMatch has been purchased by Verogen, a DNA sequencing company that works with law enforcement. Verogen has said it will continue GEDMatch's opt-in policy, instated after the Golden State Killer case sparked concerns that police and the FBI could access users' personal genetic information. While the debate about privacy versus crime-solving is not likely to be resolved any time soon, many observers think this is a positive development for GEDMatch and its 81-year-old founder, Curtis Rogers. Rogers and his partner John Olson founded GEDMatch in 2010 as a site for amateur genealogists who could upload the results of a personal DNA test and look for relatives sharing matching stretches of DNA. Before 2018, the website was fairly obscure, known mostly to genealogists. Once the story of the captured serial killer hit the headlines, everything changed. Rogers and Olson were caught up in a conflict they never anticipated. It is hoped that Verogen, a much larger firm, may be able to provide tighter security over the data and better navigate the competing ethical and legal concerns. There remain many questions about how this might work, though.

Some further reading:

Business Wire: GEDMatch Partners with Genomics Firm Verogen
Wired: A DNA Firm that Caters to Police Just Bought a Genealogy Site
NBC News: New Owner of Consumer DNA Database GEDMatch Vows to Fight Police Search Warrants
Wired: What the Golden State Killer Case Tells Us About Forensic Genetics

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