Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Privacy Biotech Government News Technology

FBI and States Vastly Expand DNA Collection, Databases 203

Mike writes "Starting this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial, and will also collect DNA from detained immigrants. For example, this year, California began taking DNA upon arrest, and expects to nearly double the growth rate of its database (PDF), to 390,000 profiles a year, up from 200,000. Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts, however law enforcement officials are expanding their collection of DNA to include millions of people who have only been arrested or detained, but not yet convicted. The move, intended to 'help solve more crimes,' is raising concerns about the privacy of petty offenders and people who are presumed innocent."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FBI and States Vastly Expand DNA Collection, Databases

Comments Filter:
  • GATTACA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fluffy99 ( 870997 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @04:39PM (#27629731)
    Scary how we are quickly moving towards the society depicted in GATTACA.
  • by Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- ( 624050 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @04:45PM (#27629795) Journal

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

  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @04:49PM (#27629845) Homepage

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

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

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

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @04:52PM (#27629873)

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

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

  • by Rohan427 ( 521859 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @04:59PM (#27629943)
    It is unconstitutional. DNA is personal property and protected. A person is INNOCENT until proven guilty, not the other way around. The act of being arrested is NOT proof of guilt, and in no way removes the rights of the individual being arrested (except in the eyes of The Man, no one seems to have any rights but them).

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

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

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

  • Unconstitutional (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:07PM (#27630011) Homepage Journal

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

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

  • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:09PM (#27630023) Journal

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

  • Re:GATTACA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <> on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:17PM (#27630081) Homepage Journal

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

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:20PM (#27630119)

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

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

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

  • kneejerk (Score:1, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:22PM (#27630133) Journal
    People are going to knee-jerk and say this is bad, but:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So think about this, before you start saying how bad it is, at least have a reasonable opinion about it, don't make yourself look like an idiot.
  • Ethics and Errors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Idiot with a gun ( 1081749 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:23PM (#27630141)
    Now I think we can all see (at least at an intellectual level) why they want to try this. In theory, at least it'll allow for faster and more accurate convictions.

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

    Furthermore, juries are lead to believe that DNA is perfect evidence. While in theory the probability of two non-twins matching is very low, the issue is there is absolutely no way to prove how exactly that material got there. What if you were in a car, and two weeks later someone else is shot in it? Or worse, what if you and your girlfriend did some dirty business in the back? Your DNA will be in the back, and it's going to be hard fighting that off in court, because the Jury believes that DNA is full-proof evidence.
  • by gringofrijolero ( 1489395 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:36PM (#27630275) Journal no way removes the rights of the individual being arrested...

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

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:39PM (#27630295) Journal

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

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

  • by boombaard ( 1001577 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:51PM (#27630423) Journal
    Considering bad cops, good criminals, and other assorted people that would like to either frame you or draw attention away from them are hardly few and far between (especially in the future, once DNA evidence checking becomes more commonplace through databases such as this one), how long do you think it will be before this is a marvellous way to implicate innocents?
  • by AlexBirch ( 1137019 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @06:12PM (#27630653) Homepage
    UK the mother of democracies?
    Greece called from 500 BC and wanted that title back.
  • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @06:39PM (#27630891) Journal

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

  • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @06:44PM (#27630931) Journal

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

  • by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @09:54PM (#27632349)

    DNA sequencing is very error prone, particularly when performed by the minimally educated techs working in crime labs. Furthermore the whole system of using "DNA markers" is flawed. To speed the workflow the fewest markers possible are tracked and this has been shown to be not enough to positively identify someone.

    It is entirely possible for a your DNA to be wrongly sequenced or contaminated to produce false match to a criminal already in the database. Every entry in current DNA databases is also suspect of being flawed and another potential source of a false match. If this happens for a serious crime like rape or murder you're looking at being greatly inconvenienced at the least and you may end up with your public reputation tarnished permanently even after the issue is cleared up with the authorities.

  • Re:GATTACA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @12:12AM (#27633307)

    Look at your UID number, close to 1.5 million people joined slashdot before you did. There is a huge variety of people here. Some go apeshit when the NSA are mentioned, but the scary thing is that a good number have the attitude that any invasion of privacy is OK if it means catching the bad guys.
    Personally this kind of shit scares me. Not only is DNA testing very unreliable but it may also make it easier to catch me, a political dissenter. I'll admit it here, I grow plants that are illegal and ingest them. I should probably stick to the legal deadly water hemlock but that is scary. Anyways I'm going to roll a joint and ingest it and go to bed.

  • by makomk ( 752139 ) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @07:57AM (#27635445) Journal

    as well as details about one's ancestry (potentially revealing infidelities, for example).

    The UK is already making use of this - so-called "familial searching". Even if the criminal's DNA isn't in the database, chances are one of their relatives is thanks to the UK police routinely taking DNA on arrest and keeping it on the database forever. (Especially if the person in question is black - 27% of black people, and 42% of black males are on the database according to TFA.) This includes arrests of kids and arrests for minor crimes.

    Looks like the US is heading in the direction of the UK already, at least in terms of DNA collection and retention. Scary, isn't it?

Space is to place as eternity is to time. -- Joseph Joubert