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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."
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FBI and States Vastly Expand DNA Collection, Databases

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  • by frup ( 998325 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @04:54PM (#27629889)

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

  • by aviators99 ( 895782 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @04:58PM (#27629939) Homepage

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:02PM (#27629983)

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

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

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

  • by slashqwerty ( 1099091 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:17PM (#27630083)

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

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

  • by passim ( 1437941 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:23PM (#27630145)
    Huge difference! Fingerprints are a match or not, period. DNA matching requires experts, with their own agenda, and results are probabilities, not absolutes. Just a few months age a researcher in the US noticed two identical samples, one was from a black man, one from a white man. I know this is highly improbable - but it happened.
  • As always ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:27PM (#27630175)

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

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @05:36PM (#27630281)

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

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

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

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

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

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @06:12PM (#27630655) Homepage Journal

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

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

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

  • by Rohan427 ( 521859 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @11:38PM (#27633073)
    No. Laws are not made to convict the guilty, or to protect the innocent, they are made to administer justice in an otherwise unjust world. There is no such thing as security, and to remove rights and freedoms from the majority in the pursuit of more security from the few scum in society is a fools errand.

    The true victims are those that believe all these "security" measures are indeed that.

    Take DNA after convicted. Take fingerprints after conviction. Otherwise, leave them alone.

  • by bmasel ( 129946 ) <<ten.sdt> <ta> <lesamb>> on Sunday April 19, 2009 @12:49AM (#27633537) Journal

    I flew United, Milwaukee>Ohare>Austin for the Netroots Nation bloggers convention last July.

    Landing, 2 bags out of 66 passengers were not on the carousel, mine and agnostic's, another raucous Dailykos poster. We were told they'd been mistakenly sent to Scranton, would be delivered to out hotel around midnight. Actually arrived 4:00 the next afternoon, with 2 pieces of tape, one from TSA, and another from Homeland Security. Missing, my hairbrush, and Ms. Agnostic's scarf.

    As I connect the dots, when our dossiers were run, an alert HSA drone noticed empty datafields for our DNA. No longer empty.

    (I have history, going back to the Nixon enemies list.)

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian