Research Topic

Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Innovations in Forensic Sciences

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About this Research Topic

Forensic science is the paradigmatic intersection between law and science and technology. Although most often associated with genomics, forensic sciences encompass other areas of science and technology including computer science, etymology, chemistry, molecular biology, and many others.

Despite this ...

Forensic science is the paradigmatic intersection between law and science and technology. Although most often associated with genomics, forensic sciences encompass other areas of science and technology including computer science, etymology, chemistry, molecular biology, and many others.

Despite this established relationship between these disparate disciplines, there seems to be a number of areas where complex ethical, legal and social issues arise. These include:

1) The recent use of the public database to catch fugitives through identification of their relatives;
2) The use of behavioral genetics to either argue in favor of or against increased punishments;
3) The growing concern of increased genetic research exposing correlations between supposedly identified fragments of DNA used by the police and complex diseases and disorders;
4) The increasing ability to falsify and fabricate DNA evidence;
5) The increasing use of DNA evidence to exonerate the innocent;
6) The increasing use of DNA, extracted from un-indicted arrestees within the criminal justice system to solve crimes;
7) The use and misuse of DNA in ancestry determination;
8) The use of computer science as a tool in extracting digital information from encrypted sources;
9) The use of DNA to recreate faces;
10) The use of DNA forensics in genotyping contraband;
11) The use of computer science forensic tools in determining whether digital information, including evidence, has been tampered with;
12) The collection of biomaterials and biometric data for use in forensic analyses.

Given these and other timely issues, a comprehensive analysis of the ethical, legal and social implications of these and other technologies, in the use of the civil and criminal justice systems, as well as other areas, could be a useful and widely read and cited Research Topic.


Keywords: forensics, genetics, criminal law, DNA, ELSI, genomics, legal, social issues, genotyping, privacy, biobanks


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