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<Dennis Foster>
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What do you think of this?



Open season on DNA may not be far away

Bob Barr - For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Want to keep your DNA out of the hands of the government? Think your DNA is too private to be forced to give to government bureaucrats to analyze, catalog, share, retain indefinitely and possibly abuse? Tough luck.

If Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) have their way, every person in this country who has the misfortune of being arrested for any federal offense, or merely "detained" by the federal government, will be forced to give a DNA sample to the government, to be used for whatever purpose it wants, whenever it wants.

Hard-liners might say "Hey, that's fine; if you've been picked up by the feds, you've surrendered your right to keep your DNA private." It's not quite that simple.

There are more than 4,000 federal offenses on the books, a number that is constantly growing. Those offenses include many misdemeanors, as well as many regulatory dictates that involve no harm to anyone. Also, and most important, don't forget that being arrested --- much less merely detained --- is not proof that you are guilty of anything.

Congressional proponents of the federal database scheme are unmoved by such "technicalities." For them, if a federal agent picks you up for any reason, even if you're innocent, Uncle Sam has a right to your DNA, by force if necessary.

While some advocates of forced DNA databasing argue it is no more intrusive than taking a fingerprint, DNA is far more than a mere reflection of a physical characteristic. Your DNA not only identifies you physically; it also could tell whoever possesses it a great deal about your biological makeup, health, propensity for certain diseases, aspects of your ancestry and more.

Aside from the obvious argument that if you arrest a person, photograph them and take their fingerprints, you already have information sufficient to identify them and do not really need all the additional information gleaned from a DNA sample, consider the vast universe of persons who would be subject to this intrusive requirement if the Kyl-Green legislation becomes law.

Persons detained at a political gathering --- such as occurred last summer at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions --- for nothing more than expressing their political views would find their DNA forever enshrined in government files. Similarly, citizens who exercise their Second Amendment rights by purchasing firearms, but make a mistake in filling out one of the required federal forms, would be forced to submit their DNA information to a federal agent.

A landowner who dares exercise dominion over his own property, but runs afoul of the myriad federal wetlands, endangered species or Environmental Protection Agency regulations, would be forced into the DNA Hall of Shame. The hapless air traveler who somehow offends a Transportation Security Administration employee's sense of decorum, and is thereby subject to detention, would be roped into the DNA database.

Misplace or misstate a deduction on your tax return? You go directly to DNA jail. The list is as long as the humongous Code of Federal Regulations, the Internal Revenue Code and the Federal Criminal Code combined.

If we were talking about a database that included DNA information on persons convicted of certain serious offenses, where it is important to retain such information for crime scene identification based on bodily fluids --- something the government is already permitted to do --- the host of privacy questions would not be at issue. But maintaining a forced DNA database of persons who may never be charged with or convicted of a felony represents an unnecessary and abusive invasion of privacy.

Even the mechanism the federal legislative proposal provides for remedying an improper collection of DNA is inadequate. In typical Big Government fashion, the Kyl-Green proposal makes it easier for the bureaucrats and harder on the individual. The aggrieved person has to "opt out" after his or her case is won or dismissed, rather than requiring the government to track the progress of its own case and affirmatively expunge the information when the person is exonerated or not charged.

This latest bad idea making the rounds in Congress is strikingly similar to another proposal passed last November by California voters. The only difference here is that the California initiative was an open measure on a public ballot.

The current congressional proposal, on the contrary, was slipped quietly into a larger, unrelated piece of legislation that most senators and House members were strongly predisposed to support --- reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. At least California was honest and upfront with its proposal.

> Former U.S. attorney and congressman Bob Barr practices law in Atlanta.


IS ANYONE HERE IN FAVOR OF SOMETHING LIKE THIS FOR TEXAS?
 
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How is it really different than them taking your fingerprint ? Don't we fingerprint everyone and have a database of that info that is used by law enforcement far and wide. And I've seen several instances of fingerprints taken by force.

And its not like they have to get blood to get your DNA. I might feel a little differently if the procedure was that "invasive", but a cheek swab, come on.

Maybe I'm just a simpleton and don't see the big picture or have a fear of "big brother" watching, but I just don't really see the difference between this and fingerprints other than more reliable identification.
 
Posts: 640 | Location: Longview, Texas | Registered: October 10, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You notice that not once in the article did this guy express what he is afraid of? He seems to have no trouble with fingerprints or mug shots, but DNA gives him a rigor? Why? Because he's afraid his DNA will show up at a crime scene in the future and the State will know whose it is?

Giving your DNA for this type of analysis doesn't tell the government anything about you that they don't already know. It only allows them to match you up to past or future DNA samples that they might locate.

Wouldn't it be nice to see an old unsolved rape case get solved because the perp shows up on a DNA screen after he cheats on his taxes?

I've heard the Big Brother business before, but I've never heard a concrete example of how this DNA could be "abused." What is he afraid of? The only thing he mentions here is the idea that your DNA can be used to determine your propensity for certain diseases and ancestry, and so forth. First, this is patently false--the type of DNA testing the government typically does for identity determination tells you only whether the donor is male or female and nothing else. This writer clearly has no idea what he's talking about. Second, although the sample could be used for that purpose theoretically, that is only a justification for limiting the types of testing to be done on the samples, not for ignoring their value.

The same arguments were made about fingerprinting when it first began. They are no more pertinent now than then.
 
Posts: 622 | Location: San Marcos | Registered: November 13, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<Dennis Foster>
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Taking someone's DNA is not the same as fingerprints or mug shots. When you take someone's DNA, you literally TAKE someone's DNA. You are physically removing a part of my body and doing something with it.

Fingerprints and mug shots take nothing from me. But my DNA is an essential part of me, and it is, in fact, me. And I don't want you having "me". And if this bill gets passed, it won't take much for the government to build a HUGE database of "me" and "you" and "you" and everybody else that it comes into contact with for whatever reason (basically any kind of law enforcement contact).

That is why I and so many others have a problem with this kind of thing. And you should, too. Do you want your children's DNA to be a part of a government database, to be used however it wishes?? Think about that now because it might be too late if this bill passes.
 
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There's nothing inherently magical that elevates DNA above a fingerprint. When you leave a fingerprint, you're leaving trace oil from your flesh in a particular pattern that is unique to your person.

A touch of spittle left in a cigarette butt or a q-tip dripping with saliva is no different.

As a lawyer, my fingerprints are on file with the State Bar. Those prints were required as a part of the application process.

It's not like they're going to keep a vial of the stuff lying around so they can frame you with a crime you didn't commit. It is simply information about you as a unique individual. Similar to fingerprints, tatoos, eye color, and anything else they write down as an identifier on an arrest report.
 
Posts: 764 | Location: Dallas, Texas | Registered: November 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well maybe I "should" think that way but I don't.

And quite frankly I wouldn't mind having my childen's DNA in the database. And let me step out there even farther, I wouldn't mind a locator chip I can put on their shoe or sew into their clothing.

I've talked with parents whose children have been missing for years, with little hope of recovery, my guess would be that they would be thrilled to have big brother Roll Eyes watching.

Just count me in as oblivious to all the government conspiracies out there or maybe I'm really part of it....hmmmmmmmm.
 
Posts: 640 | Location: Longview, Texas | Registered: October 10, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Of course I have nothing to hide, and don't mind my DNA being used for identification purposes. I just have a hard time with the idea of eventual uses of DNA, and I believe that most people share my concerns: Uses beyond identification.

If used merely for identification, OK, no problem as long as we can assure ourselves that the DNA lab (remember Houston) is competent, and an individual has the right to retest/contest results (ie: watch the watchers, because sloppy work could get someone convicted).

I just have that gnawing, lingering uneasiness, that, like SSNs, our profiles will become public somehow, and that will subject us (you know, the mutts like me who aren't blueblood) to some type of unpleasant repercussions in the future. That's the part that makes me uneasy.

Now, mind you, I am not a conspiricist (sp?), and think DNA in the public realm is beyond my lifetime, but I think it's out there.
 
Posts: 319 | Location: Midland, TX | Registered: January 09, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Have you ever applied for life or health insurance? If you have, then an insurance company already has this type of information, and they're not generally subject to the constitutional constraints that confront the government.

As to my kids, I echo Stacy's sentiment. If it means being able to locate them if they're missing, then I'm cautiously in favor of it. It seems to me that the issue is one of a bigger picture nature. Any technological advance implicates potential abuse by those with the savvy to do so. Like so many other issues, it involves a cost-benefit analysis. Is the benefit outweighed by the potential abuse? And what is the evidence to support the supposition that the abuse at the hands of the government will occur? That we all know government agents are nefarious people?
 
Posts: 1233 | Location: Amarillo, Texas, USA | Registered: March 15, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Maybe the reason people are scared of DNA is the idea that the government will be doing something weird with all these samples. The simple solution is this, don't keep the sample, just the profile.

When we take a DNA sample, we are not concerned with keeping it, just developing a profile from it that can be compared later. In the event that a sample from a crime scene shows up later, we would still need to locate you and retest DNA taken directly from you to prove that it was your DNA at the scene.

This being the case, the law could easily be framed to make sure that the profile information is all that the government obtains from your sample, and we could easily ensure that no further testing would be done on the same sample later by simply not keeping it.

The idea that DNA is "you" and that you don't want the government to have part of "you" is simply ludicrous. The government taking a buccal swab from me is far less worrisome to me than the other types of information I routinely provide the government.

And, in fact, I would be happy to provide my children's DNA profiles to the government. In the event of kidnapping or disappearance, I would prefer to know that my child could be identified. In the event that my child disappeared and became a suspect in a crime, I would like to know that he/she could be eliminated as a suspect immediately under circumstances where DNA would do that.

And I would gladly do the same thing myself, just like when the bar took my prints. Then again, I'm not afraid of the black helicopters and MIBs, either.
 
Posts: 622 | Location: San Marcos | Registered: November 13, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I agree there are lots of little pieces of "you" out there that you don't even think about.

We had a missing girl down in Bastrop 10 years ago and the Rangers were led to some remains that we got DNA from but we didn't have anything to compare it to until someone suggested that we talk to her OB/GYN, who gave us the name of the lab that tested her "yearly specimen" yada,yada,yada...50 years TDC.
 
Posts: 640 | Location: Longview, Texas | Registered: October 10, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I too, have spoken to many parents who have had children go missing. No problem with a chip here either, or with a dna profile of myself or my child. Just have 2 lines at the dna government conspiracy center. Those who want their profile on file, and those who don't.

I'm much more concerned with the type of info kept in insurance company databases rather than government databases.
 
Posts: 2577 | Location: The Great State of Texas | Registered: December 26, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The original article presents both a straw man argument and a false dilemma.

If the real concern is the use of the sample and the privacy implications for insurance and other uses not related to criminal justice, then simply include relevant limitations in the bill.

Draft the law such that only the samples are mandatory and can only be used for law enforcement and missing persons purposes. Forbid, and perhaps make it a misdemeanor, for insurance companies or other businesses to utilize genetic profiles or other DNA gathered information to deny a benefit, impose a restriction, or refuse service to a person.

Also consider exempting this information from FOIA and similar open records laws to prevent forcing the government to disclose this information.

If the fear is of abuse then draft the law to prevent misuse of the information gathered and allow the DNA to be collected and law enforcement to protect and serve.

If anything I would think those involved in innocence projects and many in the defense bar would encourage this legislation as it has the potential to reduce the possibility of a wrongful accusation.
 
Posts: 79 | Location: Williamson County | Registered: August 24, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Why is it Dennis Foster always comes up with these topics? This is an interesting topic and I agree there are no government conspiracies to misuse DNA. I'm all for it.

What I am against is MUG SHOTS. When they take your picture they take your soul!!!! Eek Wink Eek
 
Posts: 293 | Location: San Antonio | Registered: January 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The sample is mainly for identification with a cold or committed crime or a future crime. Fingerprints, retinal scans and even photos are sufficient for id. I say yes, a good thing. In the future, ANYONE who wants your DNA profile will probably be able to do a quick and dirty home test with your discarded kleenex. Orchid Cellmark is already marketing consumer collection kits for putative fathers whose progeny look a bit too much like the milkman.

My gosh-raise your hand if you actually remember when the milkman still had a route.
 
Posts: 723 | Location: Fort Worth, TX, USA | Registered: July 30, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just the other day, my kids saw an old movie with a milkman and asked, incredulously, "Did someone really do that?" Yep, with glass bottles and everything. They didn't think much of it until I told them he also would bring ice cream if you ordered it, too.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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