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Vast DNA Bank Pits Policing Vs. Privacy

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the you-have-nothing-to-hide-right-citizen dept.

275

schwit1 writes "Today a Washington Post story discusses the vast U.S. bank of genetic material it has gathered over the last few years. Already home to the genetic information of almost 3 Million Americans, the database grows by 80,000 citizens a month." From the article: "'This is the single best way to catch bad guys and keep them off the street,' said Chris Asplen, a lawyer with the Washington firm Smith Alling Lane and former executive director of the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence. 'When it's applied to everybody, it is fair, and frankly you wouldn't even know it was going on.'"

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RE: (-1, Offtopic)

logicispower (824232) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463188)

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Bad guys (5, Insightful)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463189)

But which people are the bad guys is subject to continuous change. Yesterday it was the rapists and murderers. Today it is the filesharers. Tomorrow it is the occasional book reader.

Tomorrow (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463258)

No, tomorrow it will be any individual who isn't a member of the government or a government-approved corporation.

Re:Bad guys (0, Troll)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463259)

That doesn't make any sense--the bad guys are and always have been rapists and murderers. Sure, filesharers too--they are breaking the law, whatever you may think of the law.

The occasional book reader?? Please, save us your radical hysteria.

Re:Bad guys (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463275)

Please, save us your radical hysteria.

Oh shut up.

If you think its just "radical hysteria" please explain the library records seizure rules introduced in the usa patriot act. Apparently it's "neocon hysteria" too.

Re:Bad guys (2, Interesting)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463328)

If you think its just "radical hysteria" please explain the library records seizure rules introduced in the usa patriot act.

How unthinkingly "progressive" can you be?

It's still not illegal to read The Anarchist Cookbook, but it's still illegal to blow up buildings. Determining which teenager purchased The Anarchist Cookbook a week before the school blew up is a perfectly valid tool the police can use when tracking down who the bomber is.

Come back when there is a consistent practice of knocking down people's doors just for buying The Anarchist Cookbook.

Re:Bad guys (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463370)

Come back when there is a consistent practice of knocking down people's doors just for buying The Anarchist Cookbook.

By then it will be too late to do anything about it.

Much less be able to talk about it on a public forum.

Re:Bad guys (2, Informative)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463386)

As the available amount of data increases, so do unfortunate coincidences. They get some guy on circumstantial evidence, he has no alibi, therefore he's guilty.

Re:Bad guys (3, Interesting)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463396)

As the available amount of data increases, so do unfortunate coincidences. They get some guy on circumstantial evidence, he has no alibi, therefore he's guilty.

That's a definite problem. Which is why you'd better always get a good lawyer.

Re:Bad guys (5, Insightful)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463405)

Spending money on a good lawyer should not be a prequisite of being innocent.

Re:Bad guys (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463452)

Spending money on a good lawyer should not be a prequisite of being innocent.

"Should" is the operative word. Even before the days of DNA banks and the USA PATRIOT Act, bad/lazy/stupid/overworked police and DAs could try innocent people and sometimes find them guilty.

So, I'd say that a good lawyer has always been necessary.

Re:Bad guys (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463505)

> So, I'd say that a good lawyer has always been necessary.

You're saying that since the system is already fucked up, we should make it even worse? You should run for office!

Re:Bad guys (1)

bpd1069 (57573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463558)

He didn't say it, you did.

Perhaps you should be a CNN pundent.

Re:Bad guys (1)

loqi (754476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463515)

So, I'd say that a good lawyer has always been necessary.

Maybe, but the point was that it's more necessary the more wrongful accusations there are to go around. And you yourself agreed that it's a problem that grows with these ridiculous databases. So then you agree that giant databases that increase the incidence of wrongful accusations disproportionately affect the poor?

Re:Bad guys (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463410)

You know, 15 years ago, if someone wanted a few songs from my Journey 'Escape' cassette, I could hand it over without fear that I was looking at $150,000 fine or jail time. Look at the current situation....

You don't know what you are giving up until it's long gone.

Re:Bad guys (1)

Cobralisk (666114) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463626)

Yeah well, back then the more people listened to popular music the more they wanted to buy it. No harm no foul. Now, the more you listen to current music the more you're sure you don't want to buy it. Its just economics. Personally, I think they should be paying us for having to endure current top 40 music. Don't stop believing.

Re:Bad guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463423)

You make it sound like this kind of information is only used to help determine something after it has happened.

I can't find the bit of news again right now, but a few months ago I noticed a small newsflash regarding a student who was arrested for getting a book about landmines from the library... for the paper she was writing about Vietnam or something.

This kind of information cannot only be abused.. it is pretty much a guarentee that it will be abused given the nature of mankind.

IMHO, If a society claims to have a truly form of free speech, one should also be free to read everything, without any record keeping, period!

Re:Bad guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463461)

"Determining which teenager purchased The Anarchist Cookbook a week before the school blew up is a perfectly valid tool the police can use when tracking down who the bomber is.
"

First, you need to spend more time examining the differences between 'valid', 'effective' and 'desirable in a democratic republic'. Second, why should just reading that book put one under suspicion? It's your kind of reasoning America was established to safeguard the population from, only back then the books were more along the line of the Lutheran Bible. Cheap and dishonest hedge btw, what about reading it the month before? Year before? In my lifetime? Finally, is that your threshhold, knocking down doors? Wait until you have no effective republic left and essentially a police state, then leave it to civil war and domestic terrorism to redress? Before doing so much as discussing? You, Nutria, are one of the Cowards of Utilitarianism who'll place any priciple beneath the effective shortcut if it 'saves the children', or the whales, or whatever your pet cause is of the day. That thinking is any democracy's highest risk.

Re:Bad guys (4, Insightful)

chriso11 (254041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463560)

You know, I saw this written somewhere, and it struck me as appropriate:
Facism is when the efficiency of the government is more imporant than the rights of citizens.

Re:Bad guys (0, Troll)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463673)

OH YOU SHUT UP! I am a Fascist. And I am proud of it. Before you go and label anything you dont like as "facist" (you cant spell) please read up on what Fascism really is. We are totalitarian ,NOT AUTHORITARIAN. WE BELIEVE PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE RIGHTS! Grow up please.

Re:Bad guys (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463554)

Determining which teenager purchased The Anarchist Cookbook a week before the school blew up is a perfectly valid tool the police can use when tracking down who the bomber is.

Not if such a determination is done using warrantless searches, done without probably cause, in violation of state confidentiality laws, and using unconstitutional gag orders to quash discussion of abuses - i.e., the circumstances of the library records seizures mentioned by the GP.

Re:Bad guys (2, Insightful)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463360)

The occasional book reader?? Please, save us your radical hysteria.

Book reading is, at present, not conducive to DNA sample collecting. Of course, reading politically correct books would never be against the law. Now, those filthy tobacco smokers, on the other hand ...

It would be wise to remember that what once seemed radical can soon become typical.

Re:Bad guys (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463465)

. . .the bad guys are and always have been rapists and murderers.

Alexander the "Great."

KFG

Re:Bad guys (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463660)

Well, if the rumors are true, he didn't do that much raping... (at least of the traditional kind)

Re:Bad guys (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463602)

Filesharers are breaking the law? Damn, I guess I broke the law. I sent someone a program I made from scratch a few months ago. I'll just wait for the police to come get me I suppose...I'm a dirty filesharer...

Re:Bad guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463454)

Hundreds of years ago, there were laws that allowed people to kill pirates. Why should things be different nowadays?

Bad guys? (5, Insightful)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463196)

What I find interesting is the term "bad guy". It seems I've been hearing this alot lately. It is like some strange code word, and when that label is applied to someone, they instantly become a target that can be killed, arrested, abused, even tortured without a guilty consciense.

For instance, in numerous television interviews, troops in Iraq talk about bad guys, cops on the street talk about them, inteligence agency agents talk about them etc.

I'm kind of worried, is this the new code word for sub human? For unexplaned threat?

Re:Bad guys? (2, Insightful)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463228)

See also "Unsermench," as in Jew, gypsy, intellectual, homosexual, etc.

Re:Bad guys? (4, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463265)

It's just todays politically correct way of saying untermensch.

Re:Bad guys? (0)

janoc (699997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463357)

Actually, "Unsermensch" is nonsense - it means literally "our man". "Untermensch" means "lower/below man" or something like that - meaning somebody of lower class. Nazis used this term for Jews and everybody of non-Arian race in general.

Re:Bad guys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463493)

Which is probably why he said "Untermensch" rather then "Unsermensch".

Re:Bad guys? (2, Interesting)

Shelled (81123) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463469)

I thought it was 'enemy combatant'.

Re:Bad guys? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463601)

How is rehashing a small part of the parent post in another language considered "insightful?"

Re:Bad guys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463658)

Because he speaks another language. You, being american, probably dont.

Re:Bad guys? (2, Interesting)

zenhkim (962487) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463425)

> What I find interesting is the term "bad guy". It seems I've been hearing this alot lately. [...] I'm kind of worried, is this the new code word for sub human? For unexplaned threat?

To paraphrase Dave Letterman, "You shouldn't be worried. ....You should be TERRIFIED!!" (From the Viewer Mail segment where someone submitted a through-the-passenger-window photo of a GE-brand airline jet engine.)

I'd say that your intuitive unease is spot-on: this sounds like yet another [double/new]speak term for "anyone we don't like for whatever reason". Compare it with the conservative/Republican term "family values" -- a catchphrase that encompassed a hell of a lot of hidden meanings....

- Two-parent family household
          o Must be heterosexual married couple
          o Husband must be "in charge"; wife cannot have career
- Must follow (and teach to children) fundamentalist Christian beliefs, including
          o Abstinence before marriage
          o No use of contraception (even when married!)
          o No abortions -- ever!
          o Wife must always "joyfully submit" to husband
          o No tolerance of homosexuality

Thankfully, I don't hear people throw around the phrase "family values" very much anymore -- every time I do, I want to either laugh or vomit.

Re:Bad guys? (1)

Class Act Dynamo (802223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463458)

Also notice that "family values" proponents frequently harken back to those past times when things were oh, so better. Seldom does anyone point out that black people and women couldn't vote and black people were treated as a subclass as a matter of policy. The "good old days" is such a load of crap because they were not as good as everyone remembers. Coincidentally, some of the "family values" proponents also seem to be the same folks that want to get rid of New Deal safety nets and roll back some of the equality protections we have taken for granted. Just a coincidence I suppose.

Re:Bad guys? (1)

Pendersempai (625351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463541)

If it makes you rest any easier, I've heard police officers and prosecutors use the term for at least ten years now.

What a dolt. (2, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463197)

"'This is the single best way to catch bad guys and keep them off the street,' said Chris Asplen, a lawyer with the Washington firm Smith Alling Lane and former executive director of the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence. 'When it's applied to everybody, it is fair, and frankly you wouldn't even know it was going on.'"

In other words, "It's not a crime if you don't get caught." I guess I should start robbing the estates of the dead. They wouldn't know about it, so I guess I should be able to do it. Or actually, no, you idiot. Just because no one knows about it doesn't make it any better. In fact, it makes your actions more cowardly.

Re:What a dolt. (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463382)

If you made it to the end of TFA, there's another disturbing quote from that same guy:
But Asplen of Smith Alling Lane said Congress has been helping states streamline and improve their DNA processing. And he does not think a national database would violate the Constitution.

"We already take blood from every newborn to perform government-mandated tests . . . so the right to take a sample has already been decided," Asplen said. "And we have a precedent for the government to maintain an identifying number of a person."
Translation: If I had my way, we would be doing this now, without any debate, because I think it is justified under existing laws and precedents. And we'd do it from birth.

That really puts his "When it's applied to everybody, it is fair, and frankly you wouldn't even know it was going on" statement into another light.

/Insert Gattaca [imdb.com] comment here

Re:What a dolt. (1)

zidohl (976382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463648)

That it's taken from birth to perform tests is a whole other issue than actually storing the information to keep it avalible for whatever government abuse they'll preffer.

Fair? (4, Insightful)

chills42 (750137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463206)

Just because something is fair does not make it good.

biometric database (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463210)

U snded me some data to keep 4 u overseas offshore.

Oh god U send me.

U send me highwer and higher.

I'm sendimng...

Oh oHo h

I'm sndeding ...

0oho ohoooo

I've sneded.

Frightening (5, Insightful)

l5rfanboy (977086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463218)

'When it's applied to everybody, it is fair, and frankly you wouldn't even know it was going on.'

I would be greatly interested in a link to just who has had their data collected, and their collection methods. I do not want (and I am far from alone in this) the government keeping tabs on me or archiving my personal habits into some large database that will be used against me in the future. I have never been indicted nor found guilty of any crime and as such there is no reason for the government to retain such information.

Re:Frightening (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463333)

I have never been indicted nor found guilty of any crime and as such there is no reason for the government to retain such information.
EXACTLY.

The problem with a DNA database is that everytime they run a search against it, everyone in the database is a suspect.

"Blah blah blah it's no different than fingerprints blah blah blah"

You're wrong. It's nothing like fingerprints. My fingerprints are unique.

With DNA, they can get a partial match based on your relatives. Ontop of that, DNA matching isn't always all that accurate. You can read a lengthy book excerpt [bioforensics.com] that goes in depth.

DNA evidence isn't always all the prosecutors make it out to be.

Re:Frightening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463549)

With DNA, they can get a partial match based on your relatives.

Exactly! This is one of many things that is so scary about this kind of database. It gives the illusion of certainty. Plus, even though I am an upstanding, law-abiding person, I have some really shitty relatives. In fact, I live several states away from all of them. I would hate to be arrested for some of the stupid shit they do.

they HAVE the data - maybe focus on how it's used? (1)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463567)

The problem with a DNA database is that everytime they run a search against it, everyone in the database is a suspect.

Actually, a bigger problem (not to take away from your point, but to underscore it) is that everyone not in the database is not a suspect. So when you hear them say they have it "narrowed down to two people", of course they mean "it's either these two or perhaps 6 billion not on record, or even 1 million of those who might match all they searched for". But you just know they're going to spend more time harassing those they have data on than on the other 1 million that would have matched if they were on file, too.

On the other hand, I think it's inevitable that these databases will happen. At some level, I'd rather we start moving ahead to create laws on how such info can and cannot be used than worrying about stopping the inevitable. Perhaps that's giving up. But it's practical.

Rather than telling insurance companies they can't have the data, I'd rather say they cannot discriminate in how they use it. Because at least then we can start to take statistical data on who they deny insurance to or who they fail to pay quickly and we can start to see if they are being fair. As long as this is secret, then only they can know if they are discriminating, since it becomes a "risk" to give a watchdog organization the data they should be watching for, and that's a problem right in oversight...

Re:Frightening (3, Interesting)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463593)

Exactly- there's a danger that you may be associated with a crime or criminality because of your relationship.

What happens if someone goes for a job in, um let's just say a security firm, or a bank, or the army, and they get turned down because your estranged half brother committed credit card fraud 5 years ago on the other side of the country.

Even worse, that pervy loner uncle that no-one ever talks about much rapes and kills a girl, and they come looking for you because you're a match.

Even worse in some ways (you can always get an alabi for the occasional criminal accusation, burglary etc) is when big business gets it's hands on the records (which is pretty much inevitable), and withold mortgages from honest people with dishonest relatives.

Compulsory DNA database? Pffffft. I'm glad I'm Irish, and not for the first time.

Re:Frightening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463668)

Actually, fingerprints are not (necessarily) unique either. But I agree with your general point.

Re:Frightening (2, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463348)

I do not want (and I am far from alone in this) the government keeping tabs on me or archiving my personal habits into some large database that will be used against me in the future.

You mean like the databases that Wal-Mart, Visa & MasterCard, E-ZPass, etc keep, and that the police can access at any time with a valid search warrant?

Face it: There is no privacy.

Re:Frightening (2, Insightful)

l5rfanboy (977086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463542)

Key words being "with a valid search warrant." If someone has cause to investigate me, sure, investigate me. But I should not appear on a database that they can just troll a gill-net through and discover that I match a stereotype or generality that then makes me a suspect. For them to get a warrant, they have had to convince a judge, which agreed may be easy to do as the subject has no chance to defend against the warrant, but that then creates a lengthy paper trail and requires that the request meet standards that have been set by years of precident.

Re:Frightening (2, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463597)

You know, there's this great invention which allows people to opt out of those databases, at the cost of slight inconvenience. It's called cash.

Re:Frightening (1)

disturbedite (979015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463367)

ditto. well said.

Re:Frightening (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463407)

I have never been indicted nor found guilty of any crime. . .

Until now, refusnik. We'll be watching you.

KFG

Re:Frightening (1)

l5rfanboy (977086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463642)

In Soviet Russia, Slash dots you!

Re:Frightening (1)

McLey (978446) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463415)

The problem with the privacy battle over personal information is that americans are afraid that someone is listening in on every conversation they ever have. The truth is, had it not been for the media the privacy debate wouldnt have come about. People who don't know their phones are being tapped don't mind, because ignorance is bliss. Those who do know make a big deal out of privacy isssues because they think their lives are so important that other people care whats goping on. This maybe a debate over whether the government is allowed to store your information, but it all stems from the giant privacy debate, and if George W. Bush wants to listen to my phone calls, more power to him; It doesnt bother me if he wants to listen in, who knows, he might even get a good laugh

Re:Frightening (1)

l5rfanboy (977086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463511)

It's not necessarially a matter of 'are they listening' but rather 'should they have the legal right to' that is the more poignant question. Should the government be able to listen to my phone calls? In my opinion, absolutely not. Should the government have my DNA on file? Why would they need it? My fingerprints are on file in almost every precinct in California. Why? Because I do a lot of volunteer work with children and they want to make sure the people working with our youths don't have a history of disturbing criminal behavior, and if they do, to discover just who may be affected. This I am okay with -- it was voluntary and I can see the direct need for such a thing to exist. However, again in my opinion, the potential for abuse far outweighs the benefit of allowing any governmental body to listen to my phone calls, read my email, or force my ISP to keep logs of when and how I connected to the internet, what I did while I was there, and gather even more invasive information.

DNA is the new fingerprint. (-1, Troll)

Prophetic_Truth (822032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463221)

Don't be scared of technology, if you have been fingerprinted, this is nothing different. That is the perfect analogy. Sure, you can try and make the argument that DNA will list all of genetic faults while a fingerprint won't, but i think Gattaca is still a long way off and protections can be built into law which will prevent such genetic profiling.

Rapists leave DNA and not fingerprints. Even if someone feels like their personal privacy is being invaded, if it solves even just a handful of rape or other horrid crimes, then it's worth whatever misconceived big brother conspiracy that some will obviously believe is taking place.

Gattaca (2, Informative)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463278)

Sure, you can try and make the argument that DNA will list all of genetic faults while a fingerprint won't, but i think Gattaca is still a long way off and protections can be built into law which will prevent such genetic profiling.

In Gattaca, genetic profiling was technically against the law, but was the de-facto standard way of life regardless of the law.

Re:DNA is the new fingerprint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463282)

Rapists leave DNA and not fingerprints. Even if someone feels like their personal privacy is being invaded, if it solves even just a handful of rape or other horrid crimes, then it's worth whatever misconceived big brother conspiracy that some will obviously believe is taking place.

We don't believe a "big brother conspiracy" is taking place here. We have observed, in history, that virtually every government that is given certain powers becomes corrupt and abuses those powers, and we don't expect the U.S. government to be magically more trustworthy.

Thus, we clearly outline our rights, and defend them on principle.

Among those rights are freedom of speech, press, and religion, freedom from "unfair" search and seizure, and privacy. There are many examples of why those rights are necessary, including but definitely not limited to Nazi Germany, the McCarthy era, Japanese immigrant detention in WWII, and the causes of the Revolutionary War.

In other words, even if it leads to some more rapes, if it prevents even just a handful of genocides or other horrid crimes, then it's worth defending your rights to the death.

Re:DNA is the new fingerprint. (1)

disturbedite (979015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463428)

even if there is a big brother conspiracy, being misconceived is a matter of opinion. but the future will tell. with the current state of affairs, i don't think its difficult to see where this is headed, and also the potential for abuse...

Well... (4, Insightful)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463222)

Frankly this: "you wouldn't even know it was going on." scares me the most of all.

I disagree... (3, Funny)

sedyn (880034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463224)

"This is the single best way to catch bad guys and keep them off the street"

No, the single best way to keep bad people off the street, is to not allow ANYONE onto the street. But that has its drawbacks too...

Re:I disagree... (1)

pestilence669 (823950) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463561)

"This is the single best way to catch bad guys and keep them off the street"

Why is having bad guys roaming the street always listed as a problem? If there are bad guys on the street, then that means they are away from my home. If I have a car, then I can run them over. What's so scary about criminals on the street? Heck, that's where I'd prefer they be... not at home, next door to me.

A much worse concern (2, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463233)

There's a much worse privacy concern.

Did you know that whenever you touch anything with your hand, you leave a unique mark on the thing you touched? This mark can be examined to identify you and track where you've been! Everywhere you've been.

It's a privacy nightmare. Where's the ACLU on this?

Re:A much worse concern (2, Interesting)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463300)

his mark can be examined to identify you and track where you've been!

That's true, to a point. However not every person's DNA/fingerprints are on file. I was born in 1981 and I wasn't finger printed when I was born (well actually foot printed then). Then in school, my mom never had me fingerprinted either when they had the fingerprint drive for kids incase they get abducted. I've never been in trouble w/ the law, except for a traffic ticket here and there. That doesn't mean I'm innocent, it just means I've never been in trouble. So when they go and dust something for fingerprints they'll find mine, but when they do a search, I'm not in the system.

"When it's applied to everybody, it is fair, and frankly you wouldn't even know it was going on."

I better know it's going on. I don't necessary have a problem with keeping a record of DNA and fingerprints and suck on file for kids, especially when I've been reading about alot of abductions in the paper lately. However, it should be known that it's happening. And it should be somethign that can be removed from the list. It also brings up the question of Witness Protection. Some teach savy crook can get a copy of your fingerprints and just keep an eye on any criminal complaints that come along.

Finger prints harder to fake (4, Interesting)

ebuck (585470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463517)

Finger prints are very hard to fake. Sure, you COULD do it, but DNA is designed to facilitate replication.

A few dollars and a PCR machine, and there's enough DNA to "taint" anything I want. If I already have the DNA, I can frame someone with DNA "evidence" and the current miseducated jury will proclaim the 100% match to be 100% proof.

So you should be worried about databases of DNA. There's no worry about using the DNA itself, just the governmental agencies posessing it. If a court orders I give a DNA sample to test against existing evidence, I can't see the easy ability for abuse (I'm not considering the self-incrimination angle.)

A database is a much different matter.

    Looks like Mr. John Doe has finally gone too far. Pull his DNA file, duplicate it in mass, and
    spread it around the next dead homeless person you find. Who knew he was socially unbalanced and
    liked to kill homeless people? Well, those political activists were always a strange bunch! A
    few years in prison will help him sort is out.

When did it become appropriate for the government to own a piece of you? A fingerprint is an external feature, but DNA is a part of you. Ceratinly it will be put to noble uses, but like anything that is available, sooner or later it will also be put to much less than noble uses. That's just human nature.

Michigan's samples since the mid 60's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463235)

My buddy's wife-nurse claims everyone born in a michigan hospital since the mid 60's has a dna sample that is kept in storage. I think it was blood but I'm not sure.

52 digit number (4, Insightful)

dpreformer (32338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463251)

Not commenting on whether I think the database is a good or bad idea beyond stating I think it is bad...

I do think that once a profile is done and a unique ID (The 52 digit number mentioned in the article and thread title) is developed that the sample can be destroyed. Concerns about new techniques etc are red herrings - if there is a need to do more with a given individuals DNA in a criminal investigation then the authorities should be able to show probable cause to get a new sample and do the analysis. Keeping a sample in storage is an invitation to abuse of the data.

Re:52 digit number (1)

cervo (626632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463315)

Maybe but do you really think that the US government would destroy the data from the profile/the sample? They may say they do, but I guarantee that at some point in time the NSA would have a requirement that all samples be sent directly to them. There may be an archive disk somewhere, or tracking the network. Plus if the profile is a 52 digit number, then who is to say that two or more people will not hash to the same thing. That could result in some real serious false charges that you would have no way of proving your innocence from. Low probability events do happen, even events that are 1 in a billion. When two different people's DNA hash to the same ID and one is a criminal, how does the other prove his innocence?

Re:52 digit number (1)

dpreformer (32338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463380)

How does the innocent party prove his innocence now? If DNA testing has the problem of two individuals DNA leading to the same ID then there are serious problems with using DNA to convict.

OJ was innocent!

As for the government really detorying the same - if the sample gets used (abused) after it was supposed to have been destroyed (only the ID number retained) then the individual should have recourse to recover damages.

Don't get me wrong - I don't like the ida of a government DNA ID database. I think it is a mistake and rife with abuse potential.

You said it (2, Interesting)

Frightening (976489) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463256)

"and frankly you wouldn't even know it was going on"

And thats EXACTLY why we won't have it.

So if you were an "ememy" of the state (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463291)

(or someone important for that matter). How hard would it be for an agent of the state to go edit your "dna profile" and swap you with a child molester?

because we have now been told for years that DNA is 100% infallible, it can never be wrong.

Re:So if you were an "ememy" of the state (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463440)

You can always have the test redone to show that their dna profile of you is wrong. SCOTUS has already ruled that it is now the right of an accused person to have his dna tested to prove innocence; this should fit under that umbrella.

But there is probably no way to force the govt to comensate you for your lost time and distress.

Re:So if you were an "ememy" of the state (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463486)

Or someone can place a little of your archived DNA in a crime-scene sample, either before or after the crime. Excessive reliance upon and trust of DNA evidence is an invitation to abuse.

You can have my DNA... (2, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463296)

...when you pry it from my cold dead cells.

The sovereignty of the state ends at my skin. Anyone attempting to force a DNA sample out of me will be dealt with in the same manner I would deal with an attempted sexual assault.

Re:You can have my DNA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463329)

at this time getting DNA from skin samples and hair is a bit more expensive than blood, but this will change soon enough.

You leave a litter trail of oils, dead skin, and hair where ever you go. It's public information unless we push hard for a constitutional amendment that makes it private.

Re:You can have my DNA... (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463365)

You leave a litter trail of oils, dead skin, and hair where ever you go.

Proving that some bit of dead skin and hair amoung all those in some public place I've been belongs to me would be tricky to impossible without a prior DNA sample.

If a legitimate warrant is issued, I have no problem with a search of my home to pluck hairs from my brush, though those could be my girlfriend's, or maybe my housemate borrowed it. Attempting to extract any amount, however microscopic and miniscule, of my flesh

Re:You can have my DNA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463550)

So if I asked you to suck on this dildo-shaped DNA collector, you wouldn't be ok with that?

Re:You can have my DNA... (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463385)

Anyone attempting to force a DNA sample out of me will be dealt with in the same manner I would deal with an attempted sexual assault.

If "they" come with a court order compelling you to give DNA, fighting back will just wind up with you in jail for contempt of court and/or resisting a police officer.

Re:You can have my DNA... (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463498)

If "they" come with a court order compelling you to give DNA, fighting back will just wind up with you in jail for contempt of court and/or resisting a police officer.

When the state exceeds its rightful authority, it is the right - the duty - of citizens to resist, non-violently if possible, violently if need be. An order requiring me, convicted of no crime, to yield a sliver to flesh to the government is inherently illegitimate. I repeat: the sovereignty of the state ends at my skin. It is a simple principle, for which I am prepared to fight very hard.

Would resistance end me up in jail, or dead? Possibly; I don't like that idea, but I like the idea of the government claiming to own my body even less. Will the spectre of "DNA-troopers" reaping a reward of injury or death for their attempt to violate my person make them hesitant about violating the liberties of others? It is to be hoped.

Re:You can have my DNA... (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463582)


When the state exceeds its rightful authority, it is the right - the duty - of citizens to resist, non-violently if possible, violently if need be. An order requiring me, convicted of no crime, to yield a sliver to flesh to the government is inherently illegitimate. I repeat: the sovereignty of the state ends at my skin. It is a simple principle, for which I am prepared to fight very hard.


Nice idea, but having been DNA tested by the police on numerous ocasions I would like to point out the problem with resisting a DNA test - it is nigh on impossible. All that is required is one freshly plucked hair. It is actually easier to false someone to provide a DNA sample than it is to take fingerprints with their co-operation.

You don't need a DNA database to catch "bad guys" (1, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463316)

Just tune in when a speech of the prez is to happen. Full assembly.

As you can see "bad guy" depends entirely on your point of view and definition. What is a "bad guy"? Someone who robs a bank? Kills someone? Oh, for sure, many people will agree that those are "bad guys".

What about more "questionable" bad guys? With a complete DNA database, you're save from nothing. Even the tinyest lapse of "good behaviour" has consequences. Even if you don't know it. Thrown away a cigarette stub somewhere? Well, you might not have known it, but smoking wasn't allowed in that area. Spat on the street? Too bad your saliva landed on some spraycan that was used for a graffity. Got allergies? Better take that wads of snot with you, dumping them in the next trashcan might transfer your DNA to the cellphone some hijacker used and dumped.

Framer's dream (1, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463364)

How easy is it to transfer a fingerprint? Hard.

How easy is it to transfer DNA "evidence"? Trivial.

DNA is the single most worthless piece of crap for proving anything. All these experts talk about is how exact they can be about who's DNA it is, they never talk about how exact they can be about how it got to where it was found.

TWW

PS. This is my 3000th and last post. It's been fun and all that but I'm running out of years to be spending them ranting for free on /. Bye bye.

Another avenue for identity theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463368)

Someone doesn't think twice when someone steps in behimd them at that hair salon until the police have "conclusive evidence" that you are the murderer. You hair gets dropped at 3 crime scenes you are now a serial criminal. What is that going to cost ya to prove you are not guilty!

It is fair? (3, Insightful)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463383)

"When it's applied to everybody, it is fair, and frankly you wouldn't even know it was going on."

If full scale thermo nuclear war killed everyone in the world, it would be "fair." That doesn't make it reasonable or right.

Open to the people (2)

dustwun (662589) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463419)

When it's applied to everybody, it is fair, and frankly you wouldn't even know it was going on.

I honestly don't care that my DNA is on file. I want to know however, about programs which are allowed to use this information, and for what purpose. The overwhelming majority of the people in the U.S. are law abiding citizens(unless you go by *IAA standards) and are willing to at least passively assist in protecting their way of life. To some extent, people will act the way you treat them, so if you treat a population like criminals and spying on them, don't be shocked when they start acting like criminals and finding ways to hide things from you.

Land of the free! (5, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463437)

Requirements for being "land of the free":

* Take thumbprints, photo and install RFID chip on immigrants (check)
* Take DNA and thumbs of every citizen (check)
* Monitor phone calls nation-wide and data transferred over the network (check)
* Big corporation control the government, government controls the people, people control nothing (check) ... ... ...

That's some land of the free you got there, guys.

Re:Land of the free! (1)

routerguy666 (926506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463485)

In 33 years the government hasn't been an obstacle to anything I've done, wanted to do, said, written, created. For fun, I can surf the web and read people's opinions on how shitty that situation is. They don't even go to jail for posting fud.

Indeed, it's a nice place to live.

Re:Land of the free! (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463531)

In 33 years the government hasn't been an obstacle to anything I've done, wanted to do, said, written, created. For fun, I can surf the web and read people's opinions on how shitty that situation is. They don't even go to jail for posting fud.

Keep caring just for your well-being and by the time you realise what's up, it'll be too late.
USA is largely regarded as a police state by people abroad.

My brother has some business to do there and we gotta take extensive measures so we he doesn't bring suspicion "as a terrorist", like bringing scissors in his luggage, or maybe even not getting too dark complexion at the beach.

It's not the fault of US citizens, but facts are facts.

Abbie Hoffman (2, Insightful)

Edulix (726376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463632)

"You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists." Abbie Hoffman [wikipedia.org]

Holy Tinfoil Hats, Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463483)

Don't want your DNA used by law enforcement? Then don't commit crimes! Fingerprint technology has been around for decades... can someone give me some examples of how that has been used to violate the rights of the innocent?

"Bad guys" (1)

Tom (822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463491)

'This is the single best way to catch bad guys and keep them off the street,' said Chris Asplen

Chris, as long as everyone agrees on what exactly a "bad guy" is, this isn't much of a problem. However, with the current US king^H^H^Hpresident already redefining prisoners of war as something else ("enemy combatants") just so he do with them as he pleases, the definition of "bad guy" might not long stay something we all agree upon...

Data collection versus data usage (4, Insightful)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463539)

I know all the Slashdot fanboys are violently against anyone collecting personal information about them without their permission. I can't say I disagree (at a gut-feel level). But set your emotional disgust and fear aside and think about it.

Information collection isn't the problem. Information misuse is the problem.

The problem with the data brokerage industry isn't that they collect data about me (and sometimes get it wrong). The problem is that there's no transparency for consumers into the data kept about them, and no efficient process for them to get inaccuracies corrected. The problem is that companies and the government are often using data (sometimes incorrect) in ways they shouldn't be allowed to.

You just can't stop data collection. It's going to happen, it's already happening, it's been happening. Organizations and people need to collect and exchange information in order for the economy and society to function efficiently and smoothly. Law enforcement needs information to investigate and prosecute wrongdoers. These kinds of informational needs aren't going to magically disappear.

What needs to be stopped it the misuse of data. I should be guaranteed by law the right to completely and freely see, without being charged, at any time, any and all information that any organization, business, or the government has on me, and I should be able to challenge the accuracy of the data and get corrections made in a timely manner. It should be illegal for law enforcement or the government to use data about my legal actions or protected opinions as justification for arresting me, harassing me, publicly smearing me, getting a search warrant against me, or suspecting me of criminal activity. It should be illegal for a lender to deny me a loan based on inaccurate information in my credit report; I should be guaranteed by law an opportunity to prove that the information is wrong and the lender should then be forced to reevaluate using the corrected data. It should be illegal for an employer to not hire me based on information in my credit report or medical records. Etc.

What we need are more accurate and good laws to protect people against the misuse of information. Then the mere collection of data becomes a moot point.

Re:Data collection versus data usage (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463613)

I think that UK law has the right general attitude to data protection. Personal data can only be processed for specified purposes and with consent; processing includes storage. It's not perfect: I'm sure the government is prepared if necessary to stretch the national security exception a long way; but the prohibition of feature creep provides some level of protection against misuse of stored data.

Re:Data collection versus data usage (1)

Dr Damage I (692789) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463650)

No law, regardless of how "accurate and good" can guarantee that it will not be broken. This is why the only way to prevent misuse of DNA information is to prevent its collection. This is why the "slashdot fanboys" don't want their DNA or personal information collected: it is the collection of the information that makes misuse possible. If it is not collected, it cannot be misused. A law can be broken, information that has not been collected cannot be misused.

RIP - US Consitution (4, Insightful)

bpd1069 (57573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463584)

What makes me laugh when I see posts SUPPORTING an all out assault on our freedoms, is that they don't realize that by defending the assualt, they are supporting forfeiture of their own rights.

But then I realize I shouldn't get all worked up over the US Government doing this, I need to get worked up over my fellow Citizens who are letting this happen by not voicing Outrage.

Our current Laws, and Judical system (Thanks to the last couple SCOTUS appointments) give the executive branch so much power that they can dismantle our sacred rights.

This isn't a hypothetical, its happening now.

Wake up people.

Re:RIP - US Consitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463595)

and you people thought Timothy McVeigh was a "bad guy"

Is Bush in the database ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463608)

Is the DNA of the Bush and Co. in the database ? They should lead by example.

________________________________

Mod me troll.

Big??? try the UK. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15463619)

Ok, so 3 million may seem shockinly large for you americans, but thats only 0.5% of your population, move to the UK, and you get a larger database, ok so only 3.4+ million DNA samples, covering 5% of the population.
Take a look at this:
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/usin g-science/dna-database/ [homeoffice.gov.uk]

Who's gathering it? (2, Funny)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 8 years ago | (#15463665)

Today a Washington Post story discusses the vast U.S. bank of genetic material it has gathered over the last few years.

Wait...the Washington Post has been gathering genetic material?
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