Police Are Using DNA to Generate 3D Images of Suspects They’ve Never Seen

October 11, 2022 in News by RBN Staff



Source: VICE


“Releasing one of these Parabon images to the public like the Edmonton Police did recently, is dangerous and irresponsible, especially when that image implicates a Black person and an immigrant.”


On Tuesday, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) shared a computer generated image of a suspect they created with DNA phenotyping, which it used for the first time in hopes of identifying a suspect from a 2019 sexual assault case. Using DNA evidence from the case, a company called Parabon NanoLabs created the image of a young Black man. The composite image did not factor in the suspect’s age, BMI, or environmental factors, such as facial hair, tattoos, and scars. The EPS then released this image to the public, both on its website and on social media platforms including its Twitter, claiming it to be “a last resort after all investigative avenues have been exhausted.”

The EPS’s decision to produce and share this image is extremely harmful, according to privacy experts, raising questions about the racial biases in DNA phenotyping for forensic investigations and the privacy violations of DNA databases that investigators are able to search through.