Look, I’m as happy as anyone that it looks like The Golden State Killer is off the streets. Well, probably not as happy as anyone. I’m sure some people are really happy and relieved about it. I’m more in the ‘well, that’s good’ camp. I’d say it’s a fairly normal level of happiness about it for a person who wasn’t directly impacted and had no real interest in following the case. So, sure, maybe not as happy as anyone but pretty happy with it nonetheless. Less serial killers wandering around, the better, as Nan used to say.
But . . .
I am a little concerned about how he was caught. In short, the cops looked at those DNA ancestry databases and found relatives and narrowed it down from there.
Yet, the way the Golden State Killer was found — through other people’s DNA — raises a new kind of specter. One of a data dystopia where we’ve lost control in new ways.
The combination of DNA and family tree databases, blooming in the commercial sector, is a new weapon for law enforcement in cold cases. The Golden State Killer case is a jumping off point; police are now using the same techniques to look for the Zodiac Killer.
I, personally, wouldn’t go straight to dystopia on this but it is a little unnerving. I mean it’s all fine and dandy when it’s serial killers being caught but these techs get easier and cheaper to use and pretty soon, it’s going to be a lot of people, many of whom didn’t do much of anything. And it’s just a bit much. Like, you donate your DNA to one of these sites and you’ve basically dry-snitched on all your ancestors and descendants.
That just seems like a lot of info to give away. Like, a lot.