( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Welcome to the United States of Gattaca. The Washington Post is reporting that the Bush administration is expanding DNA collection of people arrested for crimes.
The U.S. government will soon begin collecting DNA samples from all citizens arrested in connection with any federal crime and from many immigrants detained by federal authorities, adding genetic identifiers from more than 1 million individuals a year to the swiftly growing federal law enforcement DNA database.
The policy will substantially expand the current practice of routinely collecting DNA samples from only those convicted of federal crimes…
Anyone now arrested of a federal crime will have their DNA collected. With the past examples of abuse of the justice system by the Bush administration, it isn’t difficult to imagine how this change in policy could be abused. When the policy is implemented, roughly 1.2 million people a year will have their DNA collected.
No trial, no burden of proof. If the government arrests you for a federal crime, then your DNA is to be collected and added to Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), the FBI’s DNA database.
According to the FBI, CODIS is to “foster the exchange and comparison of forensic DNA evidence from violent crime investigations.” A system that was established to solve violent crimes is now expanded to suspects of any federal crime such as Internet fraud, computer intrusions, sports bribery, and retail theft. All serious crimes, of course, but also possible to be picked up as a person of interest and have your DNA swabbed.
Plus, it is not just the FBI who can gather your DNA. According to the Washington Post story:
The proposed rule applies to all federal agencies with the authority to arrest or detain, including the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Internal Revenue Service. Although details of the policy have not been announced, officials said they expect the bulk of the new DNA samples to be collected through cheek swabs.
The Bush administration is not even leading the move to collect DNA from suspects. The Associated Press reports that already 13 states collect DNA from suspects. They are Alaska, Arizona, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
In our paranoid, post-9/11 world of torture and a politicized Justice Department, innocent people could be detained and their DNA samples gathered up into the FBI’s criminal database forever. Collected DNA could be “permanently retained by the FBI” even in instances of “acquittal or a withdrawal of charges”.
The new regulation would mean that the federal government could store DNA samples of people who are not guilty of any crime, said Jesselyn McCurdy, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Now innocent people’s DNA will be put into this huge CODIS database, and it will be very difficult for them to get it out if they are not charged or convicted of a crime,” McCurdy said.
I think suspects do not belong in the same database as violent criminals and privacy advocates agree.
“Innocent people don’t belong in a so-called criminal database,” said Tania Simoncelli, science adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’re crossing a line.”
She said that if the samples are kept, they could one day be analyzed for sensitive information such as diseases and ancestry.
It seems like every day we are crossing a line.
According to Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin, we will have 30 days to comment about the proposed rule change once it is published in the Federal Register. Don’t expect an announcement from the Bush administration, rather look to the ACLU for more information when it becomes available.