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This project investigates the legal aspects of digital identities operating on a global scale, and focuses on the use of commercial genealogical DNA databanks stemming from – predominantly US-based – private companies for criminal investigations all over the world. Namely, we attend to the convergence between surveillance, forensics and direct to consumer technologies. This case is particularly salient because it ties together the rapid rise, and intensive use of biometric identifiers, the commodification of digital identities, and the use of recreational identity services in criminal investigations. The objective in unravelling this practice is to problematize digital identities, to examine how they become something else when mobilized for different purposes on a planetary scale, and what the social and legal consequences thereof are. Our research will answer three questions: What are the legal, social, and institutional environments enabling the production of identities produced through commercial DNA services? What are the legal tensions and gaps arising from the commodification of identity? What are the implications of the convergence of different, formerly geographically, legally, normatively isolated systems, uses, and practices around (digital) identities?

Alexandra Giannopoulou is a postdoctoral researcher at the Blockchain and Society Policy Lab at the Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam. She is an associate researcher at the CNRS Center for Internet and Society in Paris. Previously, she has also worked as a research fellow at Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) in Berlin. Alexandra holds a PhD from the University of Paris II Panthéon Assa. During her doctoral studies, she was a visiting researcher at Stanford Law School and a junior lecturer (ATER) at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense. Her current research focuses on data protection and digital identities. 

Amade M’charek is Professor Anthropology of Science at the department of Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests are in forensics, forensic anthropology and race. She is the PI of the project Dutchness in Genes and Genealogy, a project examining how Dutchness is enacted in collaborations between population geneticists, archaeologists and genealogists. M’charek is also the PI of the project Sexuality & Diversity in the Making. She is the founding chair of the European Network for the Social Studies of Forensics (EUnetSSF) and the convenor of the seminar series  Ir/relevance of Race in Science and Society. Her most recent research is on face making and race making in forensic identification, for which she received a five-year ERC consolidator grant in December 2013.

Balazs Bodo, PhD (1975) is an economist, Associate Professor, and socio-legal researcher at the Institute for Information Law (IViR) at the University of Amsterdam. He was a Fulbright Visiting Researcher at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society in 2006/7 and a Fellow at the Center between 2006 and 2012. In 2012/13 he was a Fulbright Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. In 2013 he moved to Amsterdam as a Marie Curie Fellow at the Institute for Information Law (IViR) at the University of Amsterdam. In 2018 he received an ERC Starting Grant to study the legal, and political implications of blockchain based technologies, and started the Blockchain & Society Policy Research Lab. He has been invited by the European Commission to serve as an expert for various blockchain related projects. in 2019 he has been a senior visiting fellow at the Weizenbaum-Institut für die vernetzte Gesellschaft, Berlin. His academic interests cluster around regulatory conflicts around new technological architectures.