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FBI and States Vastly Expand DNA Collection, Databases

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the because-dna-evidence-is-unimpeachable dept.

Privacy 203

Mike writes "Starting this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial, and will also collect DNA from detained immigrants. For example, this year, California began taking DNA upon arrest, and expects to nearly double the growth rate of its database (PDF), to 390,000 profiles a year, up from 200,000. Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts, however law enforcement officials are expanding their collection of DNA to include millions of people who have only been arrested or detained, but not yet convicted. The move, intended to 'help solve more crimes,' is raising concerns about the privacy of petty offenders and people who are presumed innocent."

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203 comments

Presumed innocent?? (1, Troll)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | about 5 years ago | (#27629707)

No such thing if you're in the system. Otherwise you wouldn't be, would you?

Re:Presumed innocent?? (-1, Flamebait)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 years ago | (#27629737)

Even a petty offender may have a long track record of minor offenses that taken together are serious.

So go ahead and collect DNA. You may eventually have everyone on record, but that's no big deal for most of us. And it may even help in identification if you get killed.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (1)

Nekomusume (956306) | about 5 years ago | (#27629899)

Implanting a tracking device that monitors your every movement would do an even better job. Or, for a lower-tech approach, simply being followed 24/7 by a police officer.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (5, Insightful)

Rohan427 (521859) | about 5 years ago | (#27629943)

It is unconstitutional. DNA is personal property and protected. A person is INNOCENT until proven guilty, not the other way around. The act of being arrested is NOT proof of guilt, and in no way removes the rights of the individual being arrested (except in the eyes of The Man, no one seems to have any rights but them).

So go ahead and collect DNA. You may eventually have everyone on record, but that's no big deal for most of us.

Who decides that it is no big deal? Who decides if you are a criminal or not (or me, or the guy down the street)? When government is allowed to take even the smallest step, it never stops and only uses that small step to build a long path to no rights for the People and more power for government.

If a person is found guilty of a felony, then and ONLY then can ANY of their rights be forfeit. In addition, the loss of rights must fit the crime.

PGA

Re:Presumed innocent?? (2, Insightful)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | about 5 years ago | (#27630275)

...in no way removes the rights of the individual being arrested...

Great! I want my time back after I have to prove their accusation is false.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | about 5 years ago | (#27630309)

I'm not a fan of this practice either, yet how does DNA fundamentally differ from fingerprints?
The police have Bill Gate's fingerprints on file.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (0)

1729 (581437) | about 5 years ago | (#27630561)

I'm not a fan of this practice either, yet how does DNA fundamentally differ from fingerprints?
  The police have Bill Gate's fingerprints on file.

Collecting DNA is much more intrusive. From DNA, you could discover some current and future medical issues, as well as details about one's ancestry (potentially revealing infidelities, for example).

Re:Presumed innocent?? (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | about 5 years ago | (#27630791)

You're correct about the data that COULD BE derived from it, yet it depends what kinds of tests the run on it.
Fortunately the US isn't at a point of running a full genome screen. 23andme still only offers a ~ 1000 genes.
Regarding collecting it, a cheek swab hardly more intrusive.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 5 years ago | (#27630891)

DNA holds several orders of magnitude more personal information then a fingerprint. The 2 things arent even comparable. A fingerprint is a physical imprint of the pattern on your fingertip, DNA tells every single genetic medical fact about you.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (2, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | about 5 years ago | (#27631617)

They only test 13 markers on the DNA, not the whole genome, in fact 99.9% of your DNA is the same for every person. While everybody is unique genetically, they only test a small subset so the identification is statistical, what I'm waiting for is a proven false match using DNA profiling.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (-1, Flamebait)

GeoSanDiego (703197) | about 5 years ago | (#27630455)

Would you feel differently if your wife or daughter was raped or murdered by a predator who would otherwise have been caught earlier had his DNA been in a database? This is not a hypothetical. The more comprehensive the database the more innocents will be prevented from becoming victims.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#27630655)

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
                Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
                US author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, & printer (1706 - 1790)

Real safety is teaching your wife or daughter to protect herself. Protecting herself is a multi-stage process: Knowing where she is, and the dangers present, knowing the people around her, learning self defense, being willing to use deadly force to protect herself - basically, being able and willing to defend herself.

If your DNA is incapable of protecting itself, why should society be burdened with doing so? You should have married a tomboy who could kick your ass all over the street to ensure that your children would survive.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27631585)

Why can't I mod you -1, Insane ?

Re:Presumed innocent?? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 5 years ago | (#27631529)

The more comprehensive the database the more innocents will be prevented from becoming victims.

Or the more innocents will become victims of invalid DNA tests.
http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/268.php [innocenceproject.org]

I bet you're the type who just sucks it all right up when the prosecutors' expert witnesses tells you just how tiny the chances are that the DNA test might be wrong.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (1)

Krapangor (533950) | about 5 years ago | (#27630577)

A person is INNOCENT until proven guilty, not the other way around.

I think you are a little bit confused about this. If a person committed a crime he is not innocent no matter if this was proven or not. Just because his innocence or non-innocence is not known, he doesn't become magically innocent. The same way a criminal does not magically change his state from innocent to non-innocent just because a judge read his verdict. This is why people are presumed innocent - to avoid hardship for the suspect who are indeed innocent. However, since fumbling in their mouth with a cotton swap can hardly account of "hardship" taking their DNA is a reasonable measure, in particular since it helps fighting crimes.

First they came for the ... (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 5 years ago | (#27630119)

You may eventually have everyone on record, but that's no big deal for most of us.

Remember folks, it's okay as long as it's happening to someone you don't care about.

And by the time it's happening to someone you DO care about, it's too late.

Re:First they came for the ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27630805)

Are you shitting me?

Look buddy, these people are effectively WAR CRIMINALS and should be treated as such, not clogging up our justice system and making us pay for lab experiments for them.

This is an "US" vs. "THEM" problem.
The best thing we can do is return them back to their country and let THEIR people shoot them.

Re:Presumed innocent?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27631075)

I don't know what moron modded your succinct disgust as troll. Lots of non-troll stuff in this thread being modded troll.

WAG OF THE FINGER TO THE MORON RESPONSIBLE.

GATTACA (4, Insightful)

fluffy99 (870997) | about 5 years ago | (#27629731)

Scary how we are quickly moving towards the society depicted in GATTACA.

Re:GATTACA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27629999)

You say that like it's a bad thing. While there are drawbacks and risks, I feel the benefits vastly outweigh them.

The DNA information can convict the guilty as well as free the innocent. I thinking keeping everybody's DNA in a database would be a good idea. Every potential evildoer would think twice about committing a crime if they knew they could be linked thru their DNA.

Re:GATTACA (2, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 5 years ago | (#27630081)

And what happens when, like all other biotech information, someone plants it or finds a way to copy it?

Re:GATTACA (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#27631085)

I think stealing blood, sperm and hair from someone without them noticing would be WAY easier than manufacturing them from what you get in a database.
Reliance on any of these thing is probably a bad idea. BUT. Since reality is not a movie I think 99% of the time it would be a good thing. Think about a crime like rape. The girl says it was a tall white guy and that is it. With DNA on hand you have a good chance of getting the guy. Just check the database. If she identifies him from a lineup AND you use the lead to gather more information then it was really helpful. Planting evidence probably happens in only a VERYVERY tiny number of cases.

Hmmm. (1, Troll)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#27629783)

Lets start taking DNA from all illegal's before sending back. If they cross over a second time, then a year in prison.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

spammeister (586331) | about 5 years ago | (#27629855)

The prison system is crowded enough with America's own citizens: Put them in their originating countries jails. It's what is going to happen when they get released in your scenario anyways. Unless they get a citizenship whilst in prison, hmmm.

The DNA you leave behind is no longer yours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27629785)

Why is this a problem? If your DNA ties you to a crime, whose fault is that?

Re:The DNA you leave behind is no longer yours (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#27629817)

Possibly my twin brother. Or perhaps somebody else (1 in what, 36 billion chance). Keep in mind that the DNA evidence is done view fingerprinting (2d electrophoretic gels), and not IDENTICAL matches. But, leaving DNA at a crime scenes is not the issue. It is having it taken from you wrongly.

Re:The DNA you leave behind is no longer yours (3, Interesting)

slashqwerty (1099091) | about 5 years ago | (#27630083)

Or perhaps somebody else (1 in what, 36 billion chance)

It's only 1 in 36 billion if DNA is randomly distributed. In reality, your DNA is passed down from your parents. The odds of a match go up if the perpetrator has your ethnicity. They go up even more if the perpetrator is in your family. They go up yet again if the perpetrator is a sibling.

Re:The DNA you leave behind is no longer yours (3, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 years ago | (#27629845)

Just because DNA trace is found at a crime scene doesn't mean that you have been there at the time of the crime, it may be that you were there moments before or did unknowingly have a brush with someone involved. This is especially important in areas where public transportation systems are frequently used.

It's important to consider how the DNA was collected and the conditions at the time to determine how relevant it is.

More interesting would be if DNA is missing when it would be expected.

Re:The DNA you leave behind is no longer yours (3, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | about 5 years ago | (#27629905)

Mistakes happen. If the woman in this story [slashdot.org] had been in that database, she'd be in prison for a crime she didn't commit.

Guilty until proven innocent (3, Insightful)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | about 5 years ago | (#27629795)

If your DNA is at the crime scene you're guilty until proven innocent. Duh.

How is that insightful? (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 years ago | (#27630281)

Just because your DNA is at a crime scene, does not mean you are considered guilty. It doesn't even make you a suspect.

It does mean the police may have questions for you, if you were not quite a long ways away and the DNA just happened to be there from a long ago visit.

DNA collection is one of those things that sounds scary but I have trouble seeing what the real problem is. Police have an easier time finding people to ask questions about a crime and get to the solution? That's not all negative, and the presence of DNA at a scene is not much different than your car license plate being remembered by someone as you drove past. It's all public information about where you were.

DNA can also reveal information about private links between individuals because DNA can travel, but again this is something the police would dig up anyway if there's a crime from cell phone records or what have you. It's more of a shortcut to get to information they would get otherwise through other means anyway.

So anyone up to a rational non-fear based debate to talk about the true negatives of DNA collection?

Exactly. (1)

khasim (1285) | about 5 years ago | (#27630311)

Because people have some strange belief in the infallibility of:
#1. The people taking the DNA sample at the crime scene.
#2. The database keeping the DNA tags.
#3. The people taking the DNA sample to enter it into the database.
#4. DNA samples being completely unique.

Instead, DNA should be used to clear suspects. Not to find them. It just isn't reliable enough.

But that's not how it is shown on TV. And TV is where most people get their education.

Incorrect lead in (1)

Q-Hack! (37846) | about 5 years ago | (#27629831)

For example, This year, California began taking DNA upon arrest and expects to nearly double the growth rate of its database, to 390,000 profiles a year, up from 200,000. Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts, however law enforcement officials are expanding their collection of DNA to include millions of people who have only been arrested or detained, but not yet convicted.

Err... They have been collecting DNA from the Military for a while now...

Just sayin

Re:Collecting by the Military (3, Informative)

captnbmoore (911895) | about 5 years ago | (#27630477)

Yes but the dna collected is by law only available to identify a body incase the tags are missing.

Scary stuff (2, Funny)

PingXao (153057) | about 5 years ago | (#27629835)

If I'm arrested can I just show them my teabag to avoid having my DNA put in the system?

This is how it is in the UK now (4, Informative)

bargainsale (1038112) | about 5 years ago | (#27629839)

The UK has a huge DNA database including large numbers of minors and people subsequently found innocent.
The much maligned European Court is protecting our liberties by declaring this illegal:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/dec/04/law-genetic [guardian.co.uk]
Such a shame that the mother of democracies should come to this.
Be warned by our bad example

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (2, Interesting)

frup (998325) | about 5 years ago | (#27629889)

Fingerprints are taken on arrest, how is this so much worse?

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#27629953)

It was on this site that numerous people stated that they were glad they lived in the US and not the police state known as the UK. Well now they have their own DNA database. Though, as you stated, finger prints were collected before and that's not much different from DNA.

I do think the UK has some privacy issues but people in the US shouldn't laugh as they always end up following the UK's lead.

First CCTV and now DNA databases. Combine with with the new US passports and it's not looking too good.

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27630103)

Both of our countries are governed by fucking freedom-hating bastards, and they are both heading down the same road. Laughing at the problem is never an appropriate response, and nor is reducing the problem to "some privacy issues".

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#27630591)

I wouldn't say "some privacy issues" is trivial since privacy should be people's top priority.

Despite the fact CCTV already came to the US before I moved out, I was luckily in an area with no cameras, so moving to the UK did freak me out where even villages and small towns could have CCTV cameras through out the area.

Admittedly I don't think about them as much now but I'm glad I've got my citizenship now and will be voting at the next opportunity and I take extra ordinary steps to keep my work life separate from my personal life including leaving things off freelance stuff off my CV that has been too close to my personal life. Which does, I suppose, make it look like I have less experience on paper but what is on there should be enough and it doesn't tie me to some things I don't want future employers to know about.

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (1)

bargainsale (1038112) | about 5 years ago | (#27630005)

No different.
The issue is whether they are kept on file when you are subsequently found innocent.
Or do you suppose that the police never arrest the innocent?
Perhaps in your country ...

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (2, Interesting)

passim (1437941) | about 5 years ago | (#27630145)

Huge difference! Fingerprints are a match or not, period. DNA matching requires experts, with their own agenda, and results are probabilities, not absolutes. Just a few months age a researcher in the US noticed two identical samples, one was from a black man, one from a white man. I know this is highly improbable - but it happened.

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (1)

Turzyx (1462339) | about 5 years ago | (#27630265)

Just a few months age a researcher in the US noticed two identical samples, one was from a black man, one from a white man. I know this is highly improbable - but it happened.

Law enforcement should not rely on a single piece of evidence, be that a witness statement, fingerprint, DNA or otherwise.

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27630303)

Glad I slipped through the cracks when I was in prison. They started pulling DNA samples from all convicts. The day I was scheduled to get mine done, I got in a fight over a card game, and ended up being shipped to another unit because I stabbed the cheating prick. And never got mine taken. I had been locked up for three years when they came to my cell one night and took me out. Figured it was for a beat down, but it turned out they had lost my fingerprints. No record in the state prison system, SBI or FBI databases. Lol, if I could have known and escaped before then.

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27631633)

"Huge difference! Fingerprints are a match or not, period."

Oh, if only [foxnews.com] that were actually the case [wikipedia.org] .

All of these techniques aren't infallible. False positives happen all the time. In addition, with a genetic test you're potentially opening your entire family to screening too.

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 5 years ago | (#27630931)

Fingerprints contain very minimal medical data about you. DNA is a CODE, its a huge repository of the information that makes you what you are physicaly. The two things are not analogous AT ALL.

Re:This is how it is in the UK now (3, Insightful)

AlexBirch (1137019) | about 5 years ago | (#27630653)

UK the mother of democracies?
Greece called from 500 BC and wanted that title back.

Yeah, a real mother (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#27630741)

Mother of democracies? Hmmmmm. Perhaps I've been mistaken about England. I always thought England was a monarchy, that had spread an empire around the world by force of arms. Liberties, rights, and democratic freedoms have been wrested FROM that monarchy by force of arms. Maybe I should google the Magna Charta again, and see how that really went down. Yes, I see. The King decided that it would be a good thing for his subjects to exercise some freedoms, and to be secure in thier persons, so he unilaterally offered the terms of the Magna Charta to his subjects, despite everything his advisors counseled.

DNA Databases are good (-1)

frup (998325) | about 5 years ago | (#27629869)

DNA databases solve cases.

In my country it is voluntary or forced for certain crimes such as rape. Voluntary DNA for petty crimes has helped solve open rape cases.

Victims rights should always be more important than that of criminals, who are often scum.

A locked up criminal is the best way of preventing further offences.

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

bargainsale (1038112) | about 5 years ago | (#27629893)

"Voluntary?"

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

frup (998325) | about 5 years ago | (#27630021)

Yes Voluntary.

As in "Would you like to give us a sample of your DNA to put on record for identification purposes?"

For some reason a significant amount say yes... I can't understand why one would if they have already committed some terrible crimes, but they seem to.

There is definitely no coercion or strong selling, but having said that, the lure of cigarettes turn hardened criminals in to teddy bears.

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

bargainsale (1038112) | about 5 years ago | (#27630129)

I doubt whether it is ever possible to describe the response of a person already in the hands of the police to a question like this as "voluntary" in any meaningful sense.

"Voluntary" would be an innocent member of the public turning up spontaneously to the police station to give a DNA sample.

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | about 5 years ago | (#27630165)

For some reason a significant amount say yes... I can't understand why one would if they have already committed some terrible crimes, but they seem to.

The trouble is trolling through a large enough database will randomly create some false positives. Even if you assume the DNA data is reliable, which it isn't, then you still have the problem of "I bumped into this person, and through some strange series of events my skin cells contaminated the sample." There was already a case of the police desperately searching for a serial killer for 6 murders, only to later realize that the suspect was a technician who was accidentally contaminating the samples. Check out the story here [telegraph.co.uk] , here [scienceblogs.com] or here [www.bild.de] .

The problem with modern DNA techniques is they can be too sensitive. They light up anyone who ever came in contact with the sample. Even if this is through accidental contact.

Good Luck if you actually had sex with the girl, and the rapist used a condom. Your going to be a suspect no matter what you do. Hope you have a really good alibi, a really good lawyer, and that the girl swears that you are a nice guy. Your going to need that alibi for the next 100 years.

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 5 years ago | (#27631207)

This:

In my country it is voluntary or forced for certain crimes...

and this:

There is definitely no coercion or strong selling, but having said that, the lure of cigarettes turn hardened criminals in to teddy bears.

...make me have to ask which country are you live in. It is not obvious to me from either post where you are from. :-)

I'm just curious, no troll or flaming intended. Really, just curious.

BTW, I also wondered about 'Voluntary' as did 'bargainsale (1038112)', but you are completly [slashdot.org] on-target, and correct [wiktionary.org] .

Re:DNA Databases are good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27630151)

"Voluntary?"

Yes. Voluntary as in "Voluntarily provide us with a DNA sample so we can use it to determine that you're not involved in this rape-murder."

If you're not guilty then providing the sample gives pretty conclusive evidence that you weren't involved. Like 100 million to 1 evidence or so depending on the type of testing they're doing.

If you're so concerned about your privacy that you don't want to give DNA that's your choice. Just be aware that your choice may lead to an ever greater violation of your privacy.

Fail to provide them a DNA sample and they then have to spend time investigating you. You may spend quite some time talking to the police. Your friends and family and employer and coworkers may spend time talking to the police. The police may search your house a few times.

That's all up to you however.

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

1729 (581437) | about 5 years ago | (#27630451)

Just be aware that your choice may lead to an ever greater violation of your privacy.

Then it's not really a choice, is it?

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 5 years ago | (#27631025)

Yes, he apparently is using/spelling the word correctly. [wiktionary.org]

From the link:

Etymology
From Middle English *voluntarie - Old French volontaire - Latin voluntarius ("'willing, of free will'") - voluntas ("'will, choice, desire'") - volens, ppr. of velle ("'to will'"). [...]Derived terms
* voluntarily

That one also tripped my grammar flag and my spel czekker, so I checked. :-)

BTW, I was going to reply to an earlier post of yours when that side tracked me.

Or do you suppose that the police never arrest the innocent?
Perhaps in your country ...

LOL! That was well done, sir. [see below]**

From earlier...It made me think. *ouch!*

Such a shame that the mother of democracies should come to this.
Be warned by our bad example

**
Funny how all three of us close cousins seem to be in a neck to neck race to the bottom. You pull ahead, then at the next turn, we pull ahead...ad nauseam. Australia, obviously is the third. My northern, Canadian cousins seem to be in the race also. Just wondering why, mind you...WTF?!?!?

Re:DNA Databases are good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27629977)

What happens if the person isn't a criminal? What guarantee do they have that the DNA taken from them has been disposed of?

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

frup (998325) | about 5 years ago | (#27630085)

As far as I am aware, the voluntary is stored indefinitely because it is voluntary. The forced, where the person is found not guilty is destroyed.

The DNA is stored by a separate agency to those prosecuting.

This is my country though, I'm not sure what happens elsewhere.

Re:DNA Databases are good (2, Informative)

ridley4 (1535661) | about 5 years ago | (#27630059)

Victims rights should always be more important than that of criminals, who are often scum.

You're horribly naive. The difference between a victim and a criminal is who did what; they're still human, they're still breathing, and there's still a few slips of paper in the framework of most nations that say that rights are something called unalienable. You're born with rights and you die with rights. Such harsh punshments, not only are cruel and unusual, but also fling themselves against probability issues. What if you were wrongly convicted of (for sake of example, et cetera) murder and sentenced to 120 years of "State-endorsed labor" or some other euphism for legalized slavery of criminals and innocents-deemed-criminals, and what of the scapegoat? The victim of circumstance? Or what if it was someone you knew? And what of the precedent? If we can take away the rights of convicts, why not suspects? And who really is a suspect? I don't want to sound like I'm spreading FUD here, but that's fire and playing with fire is going to get you burned badly. I'll stick with treating criminals like they're human so I can make sure I can be treated like a human too.

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

frup (998325) | about 5 years ago | (#27630163)

To some extent a methamphetamine addict for example, is no longer exactly on the right emotional level to really be classified as human by the way you explain it.

In my country though most murderers are out of prison after 10 years. A person can commit hundreds of burglaries and they are being treated harshly if they get even a year in prison. From that perspective, criminals are getting off pretty lightly as is.

Having said that when you compare a prisoners rights in respect of search and fingerprinting, how is compulsory DNA after arrest any more invasive? Once arrested their person can be searched pursuant to arrest, there homes and vehicles even if the circumstances are such. Their finger prints are automatically taken and not disposed of... That is all accepted and has been for decades.

I fail to see how a DNA database is more invasive than a fingerprint database.

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#27630323)

To some extent a methamphetamine addict for example, is no longer exactly on the right emotional level to really be classified as human by the way you explain it.

Dehumanizing [wikipedia.org] is the first step on the road to atrocities.

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | about 5 years ago | (#27630335)

Because they have been arrested, not convicted. They can not take a blood sample from you in NC in the case of a DWI unless A) you agree, or B) they get a warrant. If a person is convicted, then it might be legal, but IMNSHO, immoral. Fuck, convicts have it bad enough once they are released. There is a BK in my town who hires work release inmates. All well and good, until they get released. At that point the BK fires them, because they don't want felons working at their store. And it is perfectly legal, but of very questionable morality.

Re:DNA Databases are good (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#27630295)

Victims rights should always be more important than that of criminals, who are often scum.

What about the rights of innocent people who are victims of the state?

Re:DNA Databases are good (1)

1729 (581437) | about 5 years ago | (#27630491)

Victims rights should always be more important than that of criminals

What about the rights of an innocent person who was arrested and later cleared? Should their DNA remain in the system in perpetuity?

DNA upon arrest and those awaiting trial (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 5 years ago | (#27629873)

Unless it's for rape/murder, does anyone else find this extremely disturbing?

And what if you're innocent, do they erase this data out of the system?

Re:DNA upon arrest and those awaiting trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27629921)

And what if you're innocent, do they erase this data out of the system?

No. See, you've been arrested once, so there's a good chance that you'll commit a terrorist act at some point in the future.

Re:DNA upon arrest and those awaiting trial (2, Interesting)

aviators99 (895782) | about 5 years ago | (#27629939)

I find it *extremely* disturbing. DNA evidence should be used to exclude, and with consent. You should need probable cause to search someone's DNA for a match. The rights of the victim *are* more important the rights of the criminal, but the rights of the innocent are at least equivalent to the rights of the victim. This process causes a violation of the rights of millions of non-criminals (imo).

Re:DNA upon arrest and those awaiting trial (1)

frup (998325) | about 5 years ago | (#27630067)

But if you are innocent your DNA is not very likely to be there. If you have a reasonable excuse as to why it may have been there, the DNA is automatically useless.

When some one is killed violently and your DNA is found under their nails, through their clothes, etc. Further investigation reveals there DNA on your clothing etc... How do you explain that?

Re:DNA upon arrest and those awaiting trial (1)

aviators99 (895782) | about 5 years ago | (#27630169)

Right or wrong, the 4th Amendment takes into account the fact that guilty parties should be allowed to be free as a consequence. The framers felt it was worth it.

Re:DNA upon arrest and those awaiting trial (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27629983)

First, you are not found "innocent" in the legal system, you are found "not guilty." The distinction is a big one.

Second, do they erase your fingerprints if you are found not guilty, or if the charges are dropped (or never even filed**)?

**In case you are not aware of it, you can be arrested on a charge (let's say, theft) and booked and a few weeks/months later, the DA can decline to press charges against you (formally called filing "no information" or a "no file" for short). This could be because the case is shaky, or because a witness declines to get involved, or your supposed victim doesn't want to press charges, etc. When the DA no files, you are done with the legal system, no trial, no nothing. So you can be arrested, fingerprints taken, and never formally even charged with a thing. And no, your fingerprints are not destroyed at that point. The onus is on you to prove why this should be different.

Re:DNA upon arrest and those awaiting trial (2, Insightful)

Tuoqui (1091447) | about 5 years ago | (#27630023)

Simple, you're innocent. They should be destroyed because fingerprints of the guilty should only be retained.

Re:DNA upon arrest and those awaiting trial (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27630045)

again, the legal system does not determine innocence

the legal system determines whether you are "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," or whether you are not

They haven't found... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27629929)

...the "criminal gene" yet. :)

Unconstitutional (5, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 years ago | (#27630011)

All records should be destroyed when the person is proven not guilty and released. WIth this ability they can just randomly detain people for questioning about some random crime that has no connection, get their DNA, and release them.

For *innocent* people this is a clear violation of the 4th amendment. ( and perhaps others )

As always ... (4, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | about 5 years ago | (#27630175)

Fascism begins when the efficiency of the Government becomes more important than the Rights of the People.

Re:Unconstitutional (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27631495)

Minor but important correction - you aren't proven not guilty. You are not proven guilty.

DNA is only as good as you handle it . . . (3, Informative)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 5 years ago | (#27630029)

. . . a search for a female serial killer, whose victims were in Austria, France and Germany, was ended recently, when police discovered that the DNA of the suspect belonged to a women who packaged the cotton swabs used for testing:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iEPt22F_xcWatGRrX5ludZOsSM5AD976HRM00

So, how reliable will these databases be?

It's a hoot and a half to read all the different crimes associated with this case, and think how all those police profilers were totally baffled by this killer.

It won't be too funny, if a lab mix-up incriminates you.

kneejerk (1, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 years ago | (#27630133)

People are going to knee-jerk and say this is bad, but:

At one time in history, there was no way firm way to verify who a person was. If you happened to ride into town and look like a wanted person, you might end up hanged, even though it wasn't you, it was your face. Fingerprints helped to stop this.

In addition, a number of people have been cleared of murder in recent years because of DNA evidence. There is definitely a good use for this stuff.

So how are police officers going to use this? They are going to use it to help them narrow down the suspect list. Imagine there is a murder, and you get a thousand tips: you have to go out and investigate them all. On the other hand, with this, you only have to investigate one or two people, because the rest don't match the DNA.

It will be used to find people. If we'd had a database entry of the unibomber, we might have saved the lives of a lot of people by catching him earlier. But we didn't. This WILL help solve crimes. If you deny that, then you haven't thought about it enough.

What are the disadvantages of this? Privacy? What, don't you want people to know what your face looks like either? It's not really a privacy issue: if I want to know what your DNA is, I can find it. Steal your keyboard, sit next to you in a restaurant and take your cup, punch you in the face, whatever. It's not hard. If you think your DNA is private, you're wrong. You leave it everywhere.

What are you REALLY worried about then? That the government will use this DNA database to discover that you're an enemy of the state? That you will be suppressed because of it? What is your favorite conspiracy theory?

Or are you worried about the Gattaca scenario? Gattaca isn't an American thing: if we found someone has bad DNA, we'd probably end up giving them parking spaces close to the entrance. Our society is heading the OPPOSITE way of discrimination, which is a good thing.

So think about this, before you start saying how bad it is, at least have a reasonable opinion about it, don't make yourself look like an idiot.

Re:kneejerk (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 5 years ago | (#27630221)

What are you REALLY worried about then?

False positives with my name on it.

Why? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 years ago | (#27630831)

False positives with my name on it.

Right, a "false positive" on some DNA collected somewhere that there's also other evidence of you being, or even within a 100 mile region of.

Do you live deep underground in fear of meteorites as well?

Re:Why? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 5 years ago | (#27631605)

Do you live deep underground in fear of meteorites as well?

No, he probably lives in Houston [chron.com] .

If he did he'd want the database (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 years ago | (#27631667)

Note that in the case you report, it's actually the DNA typing showing the suspect was NOT THE ONE THEY WERE LOOKING FOR. So a DNA result would HELP, not HURT, those people.

It's exactly the opposite of a false positive. You don't need DNA to have police cover up inconvenient evidence.

Reasonable expectation (1)

boombaard (1001577) | about 5 years ago | (#27630379)

What are the disadvantages of this? Privacy? What, don't you want people to know what your face looks like either? It's not really a privacy issue: if I want to know what your DNA is, I can find it. Steal your keyboard, sit next to you in a restaurant and take your cup, punch you in the face, whatever. It's not hard. If you think your DNA is private, you're wrong. You leave it everywhere.

This argument is specious. The question never was if my privacy could be compromised, starting from the assumption that it is both super-secret and some sort of inviolable right. The point that applies here is Reasonable Expectation (of Privacy). Have a look at this [slashdot.org] , or consider that the cops have to have probable cause to search you. The same thing applies to looking into your DNA files.
Sure, I leave my DNA everywhere, but I also have no reason to expect people like you will be collecting it. And no, that isn't my mistake, that's the mentioned reasonable expectation.
Sure it will be used to find people, and of course examples like the Unabomber, and (for heaven's sake, let's not forget to) think of the children, etc.
Similarly, it's horribly easy (per your example) to leave or plant DNA evidence at a crime scene, both for cops and for people who want to fuck with you. Because that kind of abuse will also be happening soon, if it isn't already.

That's one of the things I'm worried about, and it has fairly little to do with conspiracism. DNA evidence is already considered "very dependable", but it's also potentially very easily abused, especially once it really goes mainstream. I wouldn't want to be the one to go into history as the person whose trial created the awareness that ultimately resulted in the discrediting of DNA evidence; Would you?
So yes, thought about it (while writing this post). Also, i'm glad you're so optimistic about american society. those GOP people had me worried last year when they started whining about mexicans.

Re:Reasonable expectation (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 years ago | (#27630429)

Also, i'm glad you're so optimistic about american society. those GOP people had me worried last year when they started whining about mexicans.

That's progress [wikipedia.org] . The trend in America is towards tolerance.

Not a reasonable expectation (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 years ago | (#27630859)

The point that applies here is Reasonable Expectation (of Privacy).

That to me is far more specious.

You leave DNA everywhere. The fact someone identifies something you leave all over, like footprints in a snowstorm is hardly "private" data. And the only people accessing these databases are doing so as part of an investigation, giving them just as much right to correlate DNA as to examine phone records.

True expectations of privacy rest more in terms of you giving someone something else you expect to be kept confidential. Thus there might be some expectation of privacy around something like an email sent to someone (though honestly anyone considering email a private medium is a fool), and certainly a conversation held behind closed doors. But data you are randomly and unconsciously leaving everywhere you go? Not reasonably private at all, nor can it be.

Drug War (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | about 5 years ago | (#27631445)

People will oppose the enforcers and enforcement measures taken by systems that they deem to be immoral and in opposition to them. That is the simplest explanation; so many people engage in civil disobedience that there will always be resistance to these sorts of proposals.

Ethics and Errors (3, Insightful)

Idiot with a gun (1081749) | about 5 years ago | (#27630141)

Now I think we can all see (at least at an intellectual level) why they want to try this. In theory, at least it'll allow for faster and more accurate convictions.

The problem is, the UK, who has the largest DNA Database in the world, is having some problems with accuracy [edri.org] . And the Germans spent 15 years hunting a serial killer who didn't even exit [independent.co.uk] .

Furthermore, juries are lead to believe that DNA is perfect evidence. While in theory the probability of two non-twins matching is very low, the issue is there is absolutely no way to prove how exactly that material got there. What if you were in a car, and two weeks later someone else is shot in it? Or worse, what if you and your girlfriend did some dirty business in the back? Your DNA will be in the back, and it's going to be hard fighting that off in court, because the Jury believes that DNA is full-proof evidence.

The Other Hand (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | about 5 years ago | (#27630255)

If you were accused of a crime but your DNA record could clear you, would you want it on record? Many people have been cleared of crimes after having been found guilty, due to DNA evidence after the fact. In some of these cases wrongdoing by law enforcement was found and itself prosecuted or at least corrected.

If someone committed a crime against you or yours, and having their DNA on record would help catch and prosecute them, would you want it done?

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin. Unfortunately those constructs are absolutes and do not exist independently in real life. Life has always been a balance between the two, including being a matter of survival. Look again at those two questions and consider the fact that you might have one answer in the theoretical sense but when faced with an actual situation could have a very different attitude.

And, the benefits to having such a database are not restricted to questions of criminal activity. If a loved one came up missing, and a body was found, and their DNA record taken without arrest or even suspicion could prove that it was or wasn't them, would you want to know if they were alive or dead? Same if you were lost and your loved ones were trying to find you or might have you decreed dead.

As for references to GATTACA, that movie had far more to do with access to DNA evidence showing probability of genetically mediated disorders, something related to health care and especially in the US, insurance. We already have laws in place preventing prejudice in availability and cost of care based on genetic proclivities. On the other hand, such evidence is available to the individual. Having your DNA tested can tell you things about your possible future, and you might choose to live differently if you knew these. You might also be able to benefit from alterations to normal treatment based on your specific genetics. Having your DNA on record would allow for advanced testing for such eventualities.

These don't change the fact that being sampled without volunteering might erode privacy. But then being sampled, no matter the context in which it is done, could protect your privacy, freedom and even life. Besides, Ben Franklin gave up some freedoms to be a citizen of the country he helped form, and gave up more when he became a part of the government. I doubt he would have agreed that he didn't deserve whatever liberty or safety he had left.

How hard do you think it is to plant DNA evidence? (3, Insightful)

boombaard (1001577) | about 5 years ago | (#27630423)

Considering bad cops, good criminals, and other assorted people that would like to either frame you or draw attention away from them are hardly few and far between (especially in the future, once DNA evidence checking becomes more commonplace through databases such as this one), how long do you think it will be before this is a marvellous way to implicate innocents?

how much are we paying (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 5 years ago | (#27630405)

for this out of control data collection? because upholding the fourth amendment seems like an excellent economy measure.

Spinning in their graves. (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | about 5 years ago | (#27630407)

What the founders of the USA are doing right now. Could anyone make a cohesive argument that if we could bring G.Washington and crew back, that the first thing they would not do is start a revolution?

Get A Warrant (1)

CyberPhart (954001) | about 5 years ago | (#27630479)

I'm sure the Feds and others think they can do this as standard operating procedure. I don't give a rat's patootie what they think. If I was ever arrested, I'd sit there chanting "Get a warrant!" through my clenched teeth. At least I'd have some basis for later demanding that they expunge me from their database. Its ridiculous to justify this data collection by saying, in essence, that I might be guilty of some future crime that hasn't even occurred yet.
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