Michael Fields, a detective from the Orlando Police Department, has revealed at a police convention that he secured a warrant to search the full GEDmatch database with over a million users. Legal experts told The New York Times that this appears to be the first time a judge has approved this kind of warrant. New York University law professor Erin Murphy even told the publication that the warrant is a “huge game-changer,” seeing as GEDmatch restricted cops’ access to its database last year. “It’s a signal that no genetic information can be safe,” the professor said.
GEDmatch came under the spotlight in 2018 after it was revealed that California police used its database to identify the Golden State Killer, who killed a dozen people in the ’70s and ’80s and was accused of over 50 rapes, through his relatives. It also came to light that cops have been using it to solve other cases, including decades-old cold ones. As a response to the backlash it got, GEDmatch changed its policy so that law enforcement can only use it to look for suspects in “murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, aggravated rape, robbery or aggravated assault” cases.