Sunday, April 19, 2009

DNA Database Expansion

The New York Times reports that starting this month, the FBI will massively expand its DNA databases to include the genetic information of people who haven't been convicted of anything.
the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial and will collect DNA from detained immigrants — the vanguard of a growing class of genetic registrants.
Essentially this means that if you are arrested and charged with a crime, your  DNA could be recorded by the FBI and stored in a database.  As an expert quoted by the Times said,
“Over time more and more crimes of decreasing severity have been added to the database. Cops and prosecutors like it because it gives everybody more information and creates a new suspect pool.”
It expands the "suspect pool" to include many more innocent people. If you were charged with a crime but completely innocent, it won't matter. You will be a possible suspect in future crimes, because your DNA will be sitting in a database along with actual convicts. Hopefully the ACLU will find the time to act against this disturbing expansion of police power, in between defending terrorists and trying to cripple the CIA.    


  1. Cripple the CIA, no. Defend terrorists from illegal interrogation and the American public from illegal wiretapping, yes. Let's hope the ACLU can walk and chew gum at the same time.

  2. I assume we are actually on the same side on this issue, right?

  3. Sure, I'm against keeping the DNA of suspects who aren't convicted, and similarly against keeping the fingerprints of just anyone who's booked.

    People whose prints/DNA are in a criminal database should either:

    a) Be currently held, being charged, or being tried.
    b) Have been convicted.

    If you're freed without a charge or conviction, their record should be clear.

    Note however that a criminal database is separate from one for e.g. passports. Whether police should be able to do searches on such non-criminal databases, I'm less certain about. I assume they can right now, and that's worrisome.