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Yale Law Student Wants Government To Have Everybody's DNA 544

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-the-junk dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Seringhaus, a Yale Law School student, writes in the NY Times, 'To Stop Crime, Share Your Genes.' In order to prevent discrimination when it comes to collecting DNA samples from criminals (and even people who are simply arrested), he proposes that the government collect a DNA profile from everybody, perhaps at birth (yes, you heard that right)." Regarding the obvious issue of genetic privacy, Seringhaus makes this argument: "Your sensitive genetic information would be safe. A DNA profile distills a person’s complex genomic information down to a set of 26 numerical values, each characterizing the length of a certain repeated sequence of 'junk' DNA that differs from person to person. Although these genetic differences are biologically meaningless — they don’t correlate with any observable characteristics — tabulating the number of repeats creates a unique identifier, a DNA 'fingerprint.' The genetic privacy risk from such profiling is virtually nil, because these records include none of the health and biological data present in one’s genome as a whole."
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Yale Law Student Wants Government To Have Everybody's DNA

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  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:07PM (#31485760)
    Then feel free to post a retraction to your very naive statement.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Or worse, he probably watched it and thought it's a great idea.

      Oh, and where's the gattaca tag?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by suso (153703) *

        Oh, and where's the gattaca tag?

        Um, its different for each person?

      • by narcberry (1328009) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @12:45AM (#31492004) Journal

        Crystal ball says:

        2012 US Ratifies bill giving the FBI the authority to collect a DNA fingerprint from all citizens.
        2012 Citizens sue for rights to DNA fingerprint Joe vs. USA. Judge rules fingerprint is generated from, but is not inherent to, someone's DNA; no rights exist to own your DNA fingerprint.
        2013 First suspect indicted on DNA only evidence, no previous criminal record. New FBI program hailed a major success.
        2016 Judge grants warrant to FBI agents to fully sequence the DNA from a federal repository of two suspects with identical DNA fingerprints.
        2017 Citizens sue to deny FBI from keeping a repository of DNA Jane vs. USA. Judge rules repository is necessary to the success of the fingerprinting program, and is therefore implied in the language of the bill.
        2017 DNA fingerprinting program in full force, cataloging the fingerprint of every new child.
        2022 First kindergarten class taught DOE lesson 14, "How your DNA fingerprint keeps you safe."
        2025 Executive order 75920; DOHHS given access to DNA repository to quantify risk of current populace to goat flu, later designated H1M1.
        2026 DOHHS isn't able to identify goat flu risks, but does find an alarmingly high number of Alzheimer prone individuals.
        2026 Government healthcare adjusts rates to compensate for high-risk individuals
        2027 Outraged citizens sue government for rights to DNA sequences John vs. USA. Judge rules the state cannot be placed in double jeopardy citing Joe vs. USA.
        2029 Legislation introduced requiring high-risk individuals pay a reproductive tax for having offspring. Legislation fails to pass.
        2031 Recession strikes. Drastic new legislation is introduced giving the DOHHS the authority to mandate medical decisions for high-risk couples. This will save or create millions of new jobs. Buried in the bill is a requirement for high-risk individuals to register with their local communities as such.
        2032 1419 high school sophomores are mandated an abortion for being a pregnant, high-risk individual.
        2033 Investigative journalist, Todd Todsen, uncovers federal tampering of "high-risk" thresholds. Newly appointed Whitehouse Chief of Staff, Todd Todsen, journals the successes of the DNA program over the past decades.
        2034 Generation DNA graduates from highschool. 64% of them are required to register with their local municipalities as gene-offenders.

        And the genetic aristocracy is born.

    • Before we even get to the Gattaca part, how does he know that this process will result in a unique sequence for every person? Including identical twins?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AndrewNeo (979708)

        Because we all know how MD5 turned out..

        • by aurispector (530273) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:47PM (#31486494)

          Yup. This guy is an idiot. How does he know government can always be trusted with the information, among other things.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by palegray.net (1195047)
            Please explain how a DNA fingerprint (note that this is not a copy of your entire genome kept on file) represents a problem.
            • by perlchild (582235) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:31PM (#31487216)

              Having it be a DNA instead of a regular fingerprint isn't the problem.

              Having digtalised fingerprints(actual strings of bytes) stored about me that can be legally claimed to be me, regardless of how they are gathered, transmitted, handled is.

              He's looking for a technical solution to the problem that the government can't be trusted with identifying information about anyone. Bad enough when it's convicted criminals(you can say they earned some of it). But ip theft occurs, with just what amounts to near-public information. Just how bad will it get when people can just copy a string of bytes and say it's you?

              He's trying to solve the wrong problem, because the right problem is NP-Hard, if not unsolvable.

              How can all those clerks, police officers, etc.. have access to what amounts to identifying information, and how can we secure it, how can we make sure it's not used for police officers "fishing" for someone to convict?

              Those are very hard questions, the answers haven't seen much public debate, and his solution addresses none of them, only the "if your identity leaks, you've also lost the privacy lock on your medical file".

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by palegray.net (1195047)
                I'll solve the primary dilemma with a direct quote of the reply I gave somebody else:

                This is assuming, of course, that we'd be allowing a DNA match to serve as the sole means of establishing probable cause for arrest and charging. I'd argue for the ability to keep the fingerprints, but still require as much burden of proof as would have been previously required to obtain the sample independently before using a fingerprint in court.

                • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@nOsPaM.jwsmythe.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:52PM (#31488428) Homepage Journal

                      If someone were out to get you, either for reasons that you did something, or you just happened to be there, it would become a reliable way to convict the person of choice.

                      "Your honor, we have on record sequence 121221212122...111. for Mr. Smythe, as stored in numerical format for his DNA. At the crime scene we also have the DNA matching 121221212122...111.

                      Mr. Smythe was in the country at the time. He also does not have a viable alibi, as he says he was at home, alone, sleeping at 0400 on March 15, 2010.

                      We have produced 4 reliable witnesses, all with the local law enforcement community, who will swear under oath that he was observed within 100 meters of the location of the crime.

                      And finally we have this piece of mail, with Mr. Smythe's fingerprints on it, which was found in the parking lot outside of the site of the crime."

                      The piece of mail? Junk mail I threw in the trash, that they moved to the crime scene.

                      The "reliable witnesses"? Those willing to testify to finish off the case.

                      And the DNA evidence? The sequence number was pulled from my record, and the "DNA expert" simply testified to the fact that it was mine.

                      Depending on where you are, the levels of corruption go deep. Having my DNA on file definitely doesn't make me feel very good about future legal problems that are not of my own doing.

                      When the defendant wins on the basis of DNA testing, it's usually that they have an unknown sample, and the defendants DNA is also an unknown sample, and then they don't match. I wouldn't want to make it easier for them, to already know what mine is, and ensure that mine will be what is found. It doesn't actually have to be mine, they just have to testify that it matched. Expert testimony is only as trustworthy as the expert.

                  • by binary paladin (684759) <binarypaladin@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @06:18PM (#31488742)

                    And anyone who thinks you're being paranoid has never been part of a criminal trial.

                    I've fought a few simple traffic tickets and watched how everyone from the attorneys to the cops to the judge would just lie and gloss over laws. It's a joke.

                    People who are more afraid than the average street criminal than the government are people with a totally broken view of reality. (Especially since fear of the street criminal is a mindset pushed by the government most of the time when they want to get more funding and raise taxes.)

                    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                      by ShakaUVM (157947)

                      >>I've fought a few simple traffic tickets and watched how everyone from the attorneys to the cops to the judge would just lie and gloss over laws. It's a joke.

                      Yep. The CHP officer had sword under oath two different speeds when I protested one ticket. Judge didn't care in the slightest.

                  • On target!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by sgt_doom (655561)

                    Spot on, JWSmythe, spot on, citizen!

                    Plus, there's that privatization thing. Whenever anything becomes federalized, the next step is corporatized ("privatized"). Not only does this cede extraordinary power to the power elites, they have probable monopoly on genetic engineering knowledge, plus future tissue engineering for organ/limb replacement, etc., etc., ad infinitum. They forever work to keep their monopolies on capital, land and knowledge.

            • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:32PM (#31487234)

              Please explain how a DNA fingerprint (note that this is not a copy of your entire genome kept on file) represents a problem.

              And we swear, cross our hearts and hope to die, that we won't actually keep a copy of your entire genome on file.

              ----Signed
              --------Your Friendly Federal Agency

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by poetmatt (793785)

            you can't expect people from yale to always be smart. The smart ones usually don't seek publicity.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by anagama (611277)

            Yup. This guy is an idiot. How does he know government can always be trusted with the information, among other things.

            He doesn't. He's just angling for some staffer job to get experience before being appointed(*) to legislative, executive, or in his case, judicial, office.

            (*) nobody actually is elected anymore -- candidates' entrance fess are paid by either major party and their associated independent PACs in exchange for showing undying loyalty to the party machine, which is not in any way the same as

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by wizardforce (1005805)

        These 26 markers are basically snippets of DNA that are cut out of a DNA sample using endonucleases. these enzymes only cut at specific sites like GATTACA but not AATTACA etc. These cuts depend on the sequence of the snippet in question. The cuts are different lengths depending on where that GATTACA site is. A mutation at the G in the example causes the enzyme not to cut where it normally does. The probability of two separate individuals sharing the same genetic fingerprint would be at the least incred

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:16PM (#31485954)

      Or, read the fucking article and realize that no one is storing your DNA, simply a fingerprint of the data. But nice

    • by Fortunato_NC (736786) <verlinh75@@@msn...com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:18PM (#31485976) Homepage Journal

      What you were supposed to say was:

      I feel a great disturbance in the force, as if the Overton Window [wikipedia.org] cried out after being shoved to the right very, very hard.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        >>>Overton Window

        "Ya wants me to break some more windows and provide Job Stims to the glass makers???" - government thug. Or maybe just junk some perfectly functional cars, which passed emissions inspections flawlessly, but we have to make work for those Government Motors employees.

      • by fwr (69372) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:05PM (#31486838)
        You have it wrong. It's not being shoved to the right, it is being shoved more towards total government, rather than anarchy. This type of information can be used for ill by either the left or the right. The radical left may, in fact, want more data than the right. I could see them wanting a full genome in an effort to take care of the people by discovering who has what predisposition to what ailments, and beginning proactive treatment. As far as the right, I see the extremist on that end wanting pretty much was asked for here, a way to positively identify each citizen to be able to link them to crimes and such. Of course they could also use it to frame someone pretty easily (it's easy to get people's DNA, just take one garbage bag and you'd have enough to plant in any crime scene).

        So the window is being shoved, but it's not being shoved left or right, it's being shoved towards a more totalitarian government.
    • by LifesABeach (234436) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:07PM (#31486866)
      "Your sensitive genetic information would be safe." Is there a Sith Lord running Yale?
  • Dammit... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <[sorceror171] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:08PM (#31485776) Homepage
    ...my fingers don't even have to be cold and dead to pry my DNA out of them.
  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:09PM (#31485780)

    As a practical matter, universal DNA collection is fairly easy: it could be done alongside blood tests on newborns, or through painless cheek swabs as a prerequisite to obtaining a driver's license or Social Security card. Once a biological sample was obtained, its use must be limited to generating a DNA profile only, and afterward the sample would be destroyed. Access to the DNA database would remain limited to law enforcement officers investigating serious crimes.

    Since every American would have a stake in keeping the data private and ensuring that only the limited content vital to law enforcement was recorded, there would be far less likelihood of government misuse than in the case of a more selective database.

    Yeah, I remember being 5 or 6 years old and wondering why the whole world wasn't just nice to each other and all our problems would be solved.

    Unfortunately, I grew up to have to understand the real world.

    This guy reminds me of a cute little 5 year old. His heart is in the right place and he just wants everything fair and nice. However, those are some BIG ASSUMPTIONS he is making:

    1) A sample will be destroyed after it is used to create a DNA profile.
    2) Only law enforcement will have access
    3) Since more Americans are in the database there is a less likelihood of government misuse.

    Actually, I am not sure we can call those assumptions. More like hypothetical requirements for an argument, like, the Sun will be Purple tomorrow.

    All 3 of those assumptions have been proven to be false, time and time and time and time again. Wasn't it just recently that we found out Texas A&M was participating in collecting blood and tissue samples from newborns without the parents knowledge and consent? Were they not also used for purposes the parents were unaware of and could object to?

    Are we really to believe that only law enforcement would have access when any PI with a few bucks can currently gain access to supposedly proteced information that only law enforcement officials should be accessing?

    Has not the goverment been caught time and time and time again abusing databases by using them for purposes well outside of the justifications and reasons for their initial creation? Doesn't the goverment quite frequently change their minds about what they will do with resources after the fact?

    Sure, if all of those assumptions are held to be true, I would agree with him about making a DNA database. However, it is not my cynicism and disillusionment in goverment that causes me to be skeptical of those assumptions. It's COLD HARD REALITY, FACTS, AND PRECENDENCE. If you want to ignore that, and let them move on with a clean slate, that's your choice. I choose to remember how often the government lies to me and abuses me.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:18PM (#31485996) Journal

      This guy reminds me of a cute little 5 year old. His heart is in the right place and he just wants everything fair and nice. However, those are some BIG ASSUMPTIONS he is making

      You could say the same thing about the American electorate. As obviously flawed as these arguments are, they are convincing to a large proportion of the population.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      More like hypothetical requirements for an argument, like, the Sun will be Purple tomorrow.

      Crap, everybody paint their windows yellow, quick!

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:24PM (#31486074)

      The less data you have from the DNA, the more matches you are going to find. The reason things like DNA and fingerprints work is you have a smallish possibility set. You have 10 suspects, you compare the fingerprints, one matches, nine don't well there you go. In all cases with fingerprints and DNA you are saying "This item matches 1 in X people in the population." Now that's usually pretty good, like 1 in a million or something. However not so useful if your sample size is 300,000,000 and growing.

      Also there's the fact that DNA tests aren't cheap, or particularly quick. They aren't the kind of thing you can use for every criminal case, it'd be way too expensive, not to mention unnecessary. I can't see that this would get used all the time. Fingerprints are done often because they are pretty cheap to test, but DNA? Not so much at this point.

      So I can't really see this of being a whole lot of use to law enforcement either.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Americano (920576)

        I agree with your conclusion, but your arguments are fairly weak.

        Now that's usually pretty good, like 1 in a million or something. However not so useful if your sample size is 300,000,000 and growing.

        If the match was a probability of 1 in 1 million, and you have 300 million samples, then you would expect three hundred (300) matches. For the purpose of finding a criminal, narrowing down your list of suspects to 300 "likely" candidates based on a DNA or fingerprint match, you can very quickly narrow down you

    • by cream wobbly (1102689) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:37PM (#31486310)

      Add an assumption: that "junk DNA" is junk.

      It's a common misconception that it doesn't code for anything. The truth is, it just hasn't been discovered yet what it encodes for. Put another way, rather than a fairly straightforward mapping of gene-to-feature, it's a more complex relationship. You can test this yourself by taking some "junk DNA" from one species and pasting it into another.

      Recently and ongoing, there's been work to try to discover some genetic predilection to particular behaviours. Things like a "entrepreneurial gene", a "thief gene", a "rapist gene", and so on. Wouldn't it be awkward if everyone's genetic fingerprint were encoded on the genes which encode for predilection to discover holes in crackpot genetic crime prevention theories?

      • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:25PM (#31488056) Journal

        Recently and ongoing, there's been work to try to discover some genetic predilection to particular behaviours. Things like a "entrepreneurial gene", a "thief gene", a "rapist gene", and so on. Wouldn't it be awkward if everyone's genetic fingerprint were encoded on the genes which encode for predilection to discover holes in crackpot genetic crime prevention theories?

        At the risk of invoking Godwin, I'm going to point out that a certain party during WWII had determined - via phrenology and other pseudoscientific means - that certain classes of people were fundamentally flawed, and proposed an ultimate solution to their quality of life issues were (a) more room to live (lebensraum) and (b) removal of the people classified as defective from society.

        The first step was to invade a peaceful neighboring country, the second was by systematic removal of people of certain genetic types, "geno-cide". This removal involved transporting people via rail freight cars and interring them in landfill, after removing any valuables (such as gold teeth) first.

        People, classifying people in any way is dangerous. Institutionalising the classification of people is pernicious. And if that pan has a handle, people will carry with it.

        If you put people in boxes, pretty soon you'll see a lot of people in boxes.

        Stop this insanity now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Swanktastic (109747)

      We shouldn't automatically reject any proposal simply because abuse and mistakes are possible.

      If I used your exact same methodology/argument to evaluate the criminal justice system, I would have to decide that it doesn't make sense to prosecute criminals because we could make a mistake and send a guilty person to jail. Society has decided that it is OK to prosecute criminals as long as the rate of false convictions is low because the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

      IF it is indeed technically possible

      • by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:14PM (#31486960)

        We shouldn't automatically reject any proposal simply because abuse and mistakes are possible.

        Oh, but I am not. I am rejecting the proposal because abuse and mistakes are highly highly likely because they have happened repeatedly in the past.

        If I used your exact same methodology/argument to evaluate the criminal justice system, I would have to decide that it doesn't make sense to prosecute criminals because we could make a mistake and send a guilty person to jail. Society has decided that it is OK to prosecute criminals as long as the rate of false convictions is low because the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

        That's a Strawmen argument and you are not using my methodology in the first place.

        IF it is indeed technically possible that one can "hash" DNA into a one-way encoding, then the concerns for abuse drop dramatically while the benefits (identification) still stay roughly the same.

        That's not the issue at all. The concerns for abuse do not drop in any measurable way whatsoever. One of the issues is whether or not the government can be trusted to destroy the sample, containing the information that is supposed to be 'hashed'. I don't trust them to do so and the facts support my position of not trusting them as being reasonable and rational.

        Just because the information is hashed, does not mean it cannot be abused either. Maybe not in the ways popularized by the movie Gattaca, but there are still plenty of other ways this could be abused by government, and indeed, even other entities that gain illicit access to the databases.

        The more rational argument is to compare this proposal to our existing system of criminal investigation, flaws and all, where cops intimidate/interrogate everyone they suspect they get their man/woman.

        No it is not. There is no comparison here at all. This database would only be a small tool used in criminal investigation and does not present an alternative to intimidation, or improper interrogation, at all. That will still happen. The only difference is that the DNA database will be used as a justification to bring in a person for questioning. I don't even believe that it would be used to convict a person either. A full DNA test would be run to provide that kind of evidence.

        It is perfectly reasonable to take into account government's behavior with systems such as these, and their methods of collection, when determining whether or not it would be a good idea.

    • by moteyalpha (1228680) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:49PM (#31486538) Homepage Journal
      I agree completely with what you say, and beyond that it is worse and wasteful. I recently completed courses in genetic analysis and RFLP along with cloning. There are some very serious logical flaws in the assumptions. I think you are giving too much credit to say 5 year old and it looks more on the order of the terrible twos. Or maybe terrible binaries of good and evil.
      The person is acting from a legal perspective and does not understand the technology. I can see many different places where the technology will change and much like the internet, people will be surprised when the first SQL injection happens or the first BOT. It is a complex technology and it is the same fricking problem that happens with everything. A linear system cannot control and manage a system which is NP hard.
      I am certain from my studies that most people do not even understand what the RFLP measures. They seem to think it measures something which is related to the person, and it really doesn't. That fact really shocked me when I was in the lab.
      I wonder whether the drone that bombs a city has a DNA to tell you who is the culprit? Or does the BOT net give a signature that says it is created by some unique UUID?
      This is an extension of methods which worked in another world before the internet.Fingerprinting, DNA and many other forensics were great when this began, but it is a new world and the threat is not cloaked in DNA or doesn't sneak into your data base in a meat suit.
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:49PM (#31487520)

      Naive indeed. You know they won't really destroy those samples (either through design, delay, or incompetence). And the thought of insurance companies one day getting hold of such a databank scares the hell out of me. And, considering that the insurance industry owns the U.S. Congress, it would be all too easy for them to quietly slip though a law giving them access.

      "Sorry, Mr. Smith but we can't give you health or life insurance coverage."

      "Why?"

      "I'm sorry sir, but that's proprietary information."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Yes, and as we know, we're already keeping biological samples from infants in many states indefinitely. [slashdot.org]

      And yes, many states that do this claim that there are great restrictions on its use, but as we've recently seen in Texas, this system already has been abused. I simply don't understand why the government wouldn't allow parents to request that such samples be destroyed within a reasonable amount of time, if they so desire -- unless they're up to more nefarious purposes. And don't tell me it's for ove

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This guy reminds me of a cute little 5 year old. His heart is in the right place and he just wants everything fair and nice.

      Actually, I would be more interested in what he plans to do after graduation and if this kind of database would be useful for him. Remember, he is a law student. Lawyers don't care about the truth. In fact, it is a part of the job description ("zealous advocacy" and all that sort of thing). He probably does not actually believe what he is writing, but if enough *other* people beli

  • Until... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xamusk (702162) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:09PM (#31485792)
    Until someone eventually find a use for that so-called "junk" DNA.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      Non-protein coding regions would be far far more accurate. Biologists have known this to be the case for quite some time yet the media just won't let the "junk DNA" term die.

  • I feel the above statement that came to me in a moment was just about as well thought out as this students proposal.
  • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@gmai l . com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:10PM (#31485806)

    What... What!?! To prevent the system from singling people out for abuse we are going to abuse everybody? Only a lawyer could think this wasn't perverted logic.

  • wait a minute... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quantumhuman (1344033) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:10PM (#31485814)
    I'm not as interested in keeping my genetic medical profile secret as in preventing EXACTLY THIS.
  • Poisonous. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:11PM (#31485826)

    This has so many flavors of wrong, so toxic to freedom, and so indicative of the mindset of "If you have nothing to hide..." that there's really only one response I can pull together. It's not eloquent, but it does, I feel, have a certain crude charm.

    "FUCK. YOU."

  • Fine With Me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LearnToSpell (694184) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:11PM (#31485830) Homepage
    Gimme your /etc/shadow too. What's the problem? It's encrypted.
  • That fucker! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BubbaDave (1352535)

    They'll stop looking for a match after they find one- regardless of the fact there will be hundreds to thousands of potential matches.

    Dave

  • Paternity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nit Picker (9292) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:12PM (#31485856)

    Someone could have a field day with this data looking for discrepancies between claimed and actual paternity. A gold-mine for the tech savvy blackmailer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zero_out (1705074)
      That was already done, on a smallish scale. I remember reading, a few years ago, about 1 in 10 men in Chicago are raising a child that they believe is theirs, but in fact, is not. This was based on data collected at a hospital. I think it was blood tests? I can't take the time to look up the original study / article at this moment.
  • Will not work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ma8thew (861741) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:12PM (#31485858)
    Stick to law, not biology Mr. Seringhaus (and honestly, I'm not too hot on you entering law). The genetic fingerprint works OK for identifying the guilty person out of several suspects, but it does not work if you have everyone on a database. If the chance of two unrelated people having the same fingerprint is (and I don't know the actual number) one in ten million and if you have every American in a database then given a DNA sample you'll get thirty people, twenty nine of which will be dragged into court through no fault of their own. Put simply, this is a profoundly stupid idea.
    • Re:Will not work (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:23PM (#31486064) Journal

      " the chance of two unrelated people having the same fingerprint is (and I don't know the actual number) one in ten million and if you have every American in a database then given a DNA sample you'll get thirty people, twenty nine of which will be dragged into court through no fault of their own. Put simply, this is a profoundly stupid idea.'

      Wow. So you have no clue about the actual overlap rate, have no clue if the author does, and then conclude his idea is dumb.

      I marvel at the logic of you and the person who modded you up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MozeeToby (1163751)

        If the false positive rate is anything greater than zero his point is still valid. Let's say there's 1,000,000 violent crimes committed in the US each year, and the odds of you being flagged falsely are one in a billion, you're betting your freedom on a 1 in 100 chance that your name won't come up in some investigation in any given year. It's the birthday paradox writ large, it doesn't matter if there's a billion DNA fingerprints or 365 days, the odds of a collision across a significant number of samples

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by chrb (1083577)

      This is a well known point and one which forensic scientists are well aware of. The point is not that DNA is the whole evidence, but forms part of the evidence. Juries are supposed to take other evidence into account too:

      "It seems logical therefore that DNA evidence alone cannot be a proof – some additional information is necessary. However, the amount of additional information that is necessary might be a very small amount. For example, add to the DNA matching evidence (of 7000 to one) the mere knowl

  • I just watched 1984 last night. Freedom is Slavery!
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:13PM (#31485876) Journal

    This student is the kind of larval shyster whose contempt for the bill of rights should exclude him from ever being allowed to practice law in the United States. Kick him out of law school.

    -jcr

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:14PM (#31485920) Journal
    Can a parent provide a DNA sample to some collection agency for money or for few? Can a child sue his/her parents, when he/she turns 18 if his/her parents have compromised his/her privacy?
  • by Rijnzael (1294596)
    Aside from the obvious arguments on the complete invasion of privacy, junk DNA is just DNA that we /think/ does not actually express itself with any observable or measurable trait. However, it's quite possible that how a gene expresses may be discovered at a later date. Imagine it's discovered that certain thinking patterns or genetic disease with high cost of treatment have a correlation to certain sequences of formerly junk DNA. In insurance company or government hands, I don't see how that information
  • "No." (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drDugan (219551) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:16PM (#31485946) Homepage

    "Your sensitive genetic information would be safe." It won't be safe for long with databases like these around.

    It's simply naïve to hope that all those in political power will follow a course of action other than acting to get more power and more control. Most people will follow the rules and take sincere interest in their fellow man, but the few who don't are those you have ward against.

    Imagine the next argument about how much better the government could make life for people if "Your sensitive genetic information" were also collected. This data would help medicine a lot. As we move toward more genetic basis for defining diseases, and defining the interaction of drugs within different people based on their genetics, there is a very strong argument that scientists could make health care better with broad access to the exact genetic information of all patients. Genetics coupled with disease phenotypes, frequencies, and drug interactions with quantitative metrics of effectiveness leads to revolutionary breakthroughs in drug development.

    But to get this data would eliminate all aspects of personal privacy regarding your health.

    If you believe in property at any level, your own body is unequivocally the one thing you own without exception. Unless there are overriding and unequivocal public health reasons to give someone else control over your body, the only answer is simply "No."

  • Is human chimerism (induced or innate).

    That is, absorbing a twin (CSI episode, I think), or from a bone marrow donor.

    A mouth swab won't include blood-based DNA.

    Admittedly, the odds of this actually coming up in a criminal case are pretty low... but even knowing about it was apparently enough to get me dismissed from a jury.

  • This is why... (Score:5, Informative)

    by vvaduva (859950) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:20PM (#31486012)

    ...you shouldn't listen to student lawyers that still can't grow a mustache!

    The Israelis have already shown that DNA can be replicated [politics.co.uk] and an innocent individual could be implicated in a crime without his or her knowledge.

    Only an ignorant fool would advocate what this guy is advocating!

  • by $beirdo (318326) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:20PM (#31486022) Homepage

    about this steady stream of idiots who are willing to mindlessly trust the government. Have the horrible lessons [wikipedia.org] of the twentieth century [wikipedia.org] already been forgotten [wikipedia.org]?

    • however, the most idiotic crowd i see are actually those with a pathological distrust of government

      in a democracy, the government is yours, it is your representatives. all paranoid schizophrenic fantasy life and hypernegative ignorant cynicism to the contrary

      as such, you afford it a certain amount of trust. too much, and you're a moron. but also true: too little, and you're also moron, to the same degree

      a society with a rabid unintelligent hostility towards its own democratically elected government is just

  • Mission Creep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:21PM (#31486030) Journal

    The Elected Nobility won't keep their promises. "Oh it's only 26 markers... we can't predict your health from that," and then in ten or twenty years they'll want to sequence your entire genome, so they can create a society like GATTACA.

    I've seen this before. The Nobles promised income tax would only affect people over $100,000 not the commoners. They said Medicare would only cost 60 billion, and that it would REDUCE healthcare costs, which of course it did the exact opposite. And they claimed the social security number would Never be used for anything else, but the SS administration.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice.....

  • Here's an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:26PM (#31486116)

    Why don't we try this only with Yale law students?

  • by dissy (172727) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:31PM (#31486220)

    Wow.

    Considering with the current DNA sampling methods, my DNA will match one or two million other people on the planet, a good few thousand of them being in my own country...

    No thanks, I have no desire to admit and take the blame for the crimes those other people did and were caught at.

    Someone should direct this so called law student to our constitutional amendments. He only has to get through the first 5 or so :P

  • by chill (34294) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:39PM (#31486350) Journal

    His main argument against storing DNA of only convicted criminals is that there aren't enough white criminals, so the idea is racist. This entire premise makes me want to puke.

  • by night_flyer (453866) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:05PM (#31486836) Homepage

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/03/obama-supports-dna-sampling-upon-arrest [wired.com]

    At the moment it is *just* upon arrest... how's that hope and change working out for you?

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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