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Stanford Researcher's Cryptography Can Preserve Genetic Privacy in Criminal DNA Profiling


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A chalk outline of a crime victim.

An algorithm that law enforcement officials can download free of charge protects genetic privacy when samples are collected from suspects.

Credit: Fer Gregory/Shutterstock

Researchers at Stanford Medicine, the University of Virginia, and the Broad Institute have devised cryptography that searches for DNA matches in criminal cases while protecting the suspect's genetic privacy.

Stanford's Gill Bejerano said, "We can query the database with an individual's genetic profile without depositing the information into the database. It's an anonymous interaction, and that profile lives only on the device on which it was collected. When the agent hits 'delete,' that profile is gone."

The researchers wrote a piece of software code that can be installed on computers used to access DNA databases, and on a cheek-swab instrument; it enables both parties to communicate and perform DNA comparisons indirectly as a series of "if this, then that" instructions.

The parties only learn each other's identity if specific parameters match precisely, and Bejerano said 1 million profiles can be queried in 40 seconds using just 180 MB.

From Stanford Medicine News Center
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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