Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Biotech Government United States

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Yale Law Student Wants Government To Have Everybody's DNA

Comments Filter:
  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:07PM (#31485760)
    Then feel free to post a retraction to your very naive statement.
  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:09PM (#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.

  • Until... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xamusk (702162) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:09PM (#31485792)
    Until someone eventually find a use for that so-called "junk" DNA.
  • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@NospAm.gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:10PM (#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 @02:10PM (#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 @02:11PM (#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."

  • Will not work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ma8thew (861741) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:12PM (#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.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:13PM (#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

  • Re:Good Idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:14PM (#31485916) Journal

    who the frack cares what a college student has to say?

    Like it or not, today's kids are the ones who will be running things tomorrow. Especially the ones coming from Ivy league law schools.

  • by Rijnzael (1294596) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:16PM (#31485942)
    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 would be used in anything but an oppressive manner. And of course, the particular set of digits which result from one's DNA profile is condition of the enzyme used to slice up the DNA sample. With that large of a sample space false positives are all but assured.
  • "No." (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drDugan (219551) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:16PM (#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."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:16PM (#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 @02:18PM (#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.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:18PM (#31485984)
    If you assume that collecting DNA from everyone who is arrested is fair, why wouldn't it be fair to collect it from everyone who is born? And conversely if it is not fair to collect it from everyone, why is it fair to collect if from everyone who is arrested?
  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:18PM (#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 $beirdo (318326) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:20PM (#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]?

  • Mission Creep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:21PM (#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.....

  • by AndrewNeo (979708) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:22PM (#31486036) Homepage

    Because we all know how MD5 turned out..

  • Re:Will not work (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:23PM (#31486058)

    This is a good assessment. Everything in genetics has a false positive rate (a.k.a. false discovery rate). We start filling the database with hundreds of millions of people and it becomes very difficult to identify a person uniquely from those fingerprints.
        We could use more fingerprints, but that only decreases the probability of a false hit. Multiple comparisons can also mess up the significance reporting and allow misinterpretation.
        I've seen how sloppy molecular biologists can be with this sort of thing. I don't want to see how sloppy law enforcement and/or government agencies can be with it.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:24PM (#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.

  • by residieu (577863) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:25PM (#31486108)
    Who has said that collecting from everyone who is arrested is fair?
  • Here's an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:26PM (#31486116)

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

  • Re:Will not work (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:27PM (#31486146)

    Not to say there aren't other issues with this, but in and of itself the one to many mapping of DNA 'fingerprints' to actual people is not as big a problem as you make it out to be. Sure a given 'fingerprint' may ID 20, 30 or even 100 people, but once this becomes the norm, cops will have to go back to old fashioned police work. If semen with a certain 'fingerprint' is found at a crime scene in NY and it maps back to 50 people, all it would take to eliminate virtually all of them was a phone call to get a rough alibi (what state were you in last Wednesday and whom can we call to verify this?).

    The single most valuable thing such a registry would do would be to convince people that DNA 'fingerprints' are NOT, in and of themselves, reliable identifiers.

  • by dissy (172727) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:31PM (#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

  • Re:Will not work (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ma8thew (861741) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:33PM (#31486246)
    Yes but just imagine: you could one day have a knock at the door, and the police have a warrant to arrest you and search your house. You have no idea why, but as it turns out your DNA matched that found at the scene of a crime. It could take months or years to clear your name. Imagine further that this is some kind of horrific rape or murder. You could lose your job, be threatened by vigilantes, lose friendships.
  • by cream wobbly (1102689) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:37PM (#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?

  • Re:Will not work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ma8thew (861741) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:41PM (#31486374)
    But it still implicates innocent people with no relation to the crime. Do you think all the police in the country can be trusted not to immediately take out a search and arrest warrant on every match?
  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:46PM (#31486468)

    Which would be great if such fingerprints didn't run into the birthday paradox.

    The chances of any 2 random individuals sharing the same profile is tiny.
    The chances of getting a lot of matches in a large population are extremely high.

    Also those odds are not entirely independent, second cousin has a higher chance of matching with me than a random stranger so crank up the odds a little more.

    And thanks to all the CSI crap DNA evidence is like magical-never-wrong fairy dust.
    -They find DNA at the scene.
    -Birthday paradox comes into play
    -I happen to be in the same city at about the right time.
    -lazy prosecutor
    -I'm fucked.

    I have nothing to gain from adding my DNA to such a database and plenty to lose.

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:46PM (#31486480)

    The government would never lie to us. It never has lied to us, has it?

  • by aurispector (530273) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:47PM (#31486494)

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

  • by moteyalpha (1228680) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:49PM (#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 wizardforce (1005805) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:51PM (#31486564) Journal

    The odds of two non-identical twin individuals sharing the same 26 marker genetic fingerprint are several billion to one. THe reason it is a bad idea is that it's unconstitutional, a severe violation of privacy and certain for abuse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:53PM (#31486612)

    But every one of them is a HUMAN. Who are you going to most likely share a lot of genes with? Your family. Most families live somewhat together.

    See a problem here?

    Add into that that the sequencing of gene data at a crimescene is not a pristine sequencing lab, you have yet more problems.

  • Re:Will not work (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:55PM (#31486662)

    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 is much higher than intuition would make it seem.

    Granted, odds are pretty good that the police won't even question you depending on your location, so maybe you'd only be investigated if you were in the same area that the crime took place, so instead of 100 it's 5000. Maybe if being accused of certain crimes wasn't a punishment in and of itself (sexual assault of a child comes to mind) you might convince me that it's worth the risk. But the way the world works, a 1 in 50000 chance of being accused of something like that is quite simply unacceptably high.

  • by Manip (656104) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:57PM (#31486706)

    You do realise the keep the original samples right?
    So they take a sample of DNA, store X points of data into a database, and then take the sample and store it in a massive warehouse. Why? According to them it is so they can re-sample it at higher detail later.

  • Re:Good for him... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Philip K Dickhead (906971) <folderol@fancypants.org> on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:04PM (#31486822) Journal

    America is already one giant prison - you have numbers, don't you?

    Now, the deal is sealed.

    Signed,
    -- Dead Jefferson

  • Please explain how a DNA fingerprint (note that this is not a copy of your entire genome kept on file) represents a problem.
  • by fwr (69372) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:05PM (#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 EdIII (1114411) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:14PM (#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 poetmatt (793785) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:20PM (#31487066) Journal

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

  • by zero_out (1705074) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:22PM (#31487096)

    A DNA sample is taken of every child born in the US, to test for potential genetic diseases. The original specimen is stored for a period of time, based on state laws. Here are some citations:

    Genetic Screening [nih.gov]

    Controversy [cnn.com]

    Specimen retention by state [uthscsa.edu]

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:32PM (#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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:37PM (#31487310)

    "Only the guilty have anything to worry about" anti-privacy activists think it's a good thing, and nobody's going to make him think otherwise.

  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:38PM (#31487316) Journal

    Are you sure about those odds? [latimes.com]

    State crime lab analyst Kathryn Troyer was running tests on Arizona's DNA database when she stumbled across two felons with remarkably similar genetic profiles.
    The men matched at nine of the 13 locations on chromosomes, or loci, commonly used to distinguish people.
    The FBI estimated the odds of unrelated people sharing those genetic markers to be as remote as 1 in 113 billion. But the mug shots of the two felons suggested that they were not related: One was black, the other white.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:46PM (#31487470)

    Wikipedia is reporting the FBIs estimated numbers

    The actual numbers are much worse.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/20/local/me-dna20 [latimes.com]

    Among about 65,000 felons, there were 122 pairs that matched at nine of 13 loci. Twenty pairs matched at 10 loci. One matched at 11 and one at 12, though both later proved to belong to relatives.

    Or just google: dna "arizona search"

    Also realize that for most crime scene samples, it's generally sufficiently degraded that you are only going to get 9 loci out of it. It doesn't matter if you have 13 loci in your database, if the comparison sample only has 9 that can be amplified out using PCR.

    -- Terry

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday March 15, 2010 @03:49PM (#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."

  • by Zerth (26112) on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:00PM (#31487674)

    And add in the lab tech seeing "101000" and "010100" and deciding the test medium just wasn't aligned properly and declaring it a match anyway. Or testing a sample against itself, by accident.

  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe AT jwsmythe DOT com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:52PM (#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.

  • Re:Will not work (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bitingduck (810730) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:03PM (#31488570) Homepage

    Tell that to Brandon Mayfield: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Mayfield [wikipedia.org]

    The spanish police told the US that the prints were no match, and that they had other real suspects with real evidence, but the FBI chose to keep after him anyway.

    In his case they're talking about real fingerprints that have been in use for about 100 years, and they still got it all wrong.

  • by binary paladin (684759) <binarypaladin&gmail,com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:18PM (#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.)

  • by oji-sama (1151023) on Monday March 15, 2010 @05:18PM (#31488744)

    "We know that 1 of these 300 people probably committed this crime. Now the police simply have to investigate to figure out which of them are likely to be tied to this crime either by proximity or possible motive." How is that not useful, from a law enforcement standpoint? You just narrowed your list of potential suspects from 300 million to 300, a large number of whom could probably be eliminated simply because they are not remotely related to the victim in any way, spatially or socially.

    This here is the scary part. If I could believe that one person out of those 300 was always the criminal, this would be great. However, I fear it is very much likely that there would be cases where the police would go after 'the wrong DNA' and find a person that is tied to the crime either by proximity or motive...

    The second non-optimal possibility would be sweeping the crime scene and harassing the persons that have visited it, because one of them 'must have done the deed'...

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

    by sgt_doom (655561) on Monday March 15, 2010 @06:25PM (#31489420)

    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 narcberry (1328009) on Monday March 15, 2010 @11:45PM (#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.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

Working...