Forensic genomics now enables law enforcement agencies to undertake rapid and detailed analysis of suspect samples using a technique known as massively parallel sequencing (MPS), including information such as physical traits, biological ancestry, and medical conditions. This article discusses the implications of MPS and provides ethical analysis, drawing on the concept of joint rights applicable to genomic data, and the concept of collective moral responsibility (understood as joint moral responsibility) that are applicable to law enforcement investigations that utilize genomic data. The widespread and unconstrained use of this technology without appropriate legal protections of individual moral rights and associated accountability mechanisms, could potentially not only involve violations of individual moral rights but also lead to an unacceptable shift in the balance of power between governments and the citizenry. We argue that in light of the rights of victims and the security benefits for society, there is a collective moral responsibility for individuals to submit their DNA to law enforcement and for MPS to be used where other, less invasive techniques are not effective. However, this application should be limited by legislation, including that any data obtained should be directly relevant to the investigation and should be destroyed at the conclusion of the investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Nov 2023


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