The DNA Debate Continues
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard wants to run a DNA profile on everyone arrested and booked into the new county jail when it opens later this year, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported today.
Authorities would take two drops of blood, then create, log and store the profile in a database, which would be used to cross-reference with DNA samples collected from crime scenes.
But many people believe issues of privacy and due process must be addressed before sampling becomes part of the arrest procedure.
“Using [DNA] in this way violates the principle of citizens being innocent until proven guilty. We are equating arrest with guilt,” said Carol Gnade, Executive Director of the Utah affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
News outlets also noted that privacy advocates were especially worried that the potential stockpiling of genetic information could endanger individual freedoms.
“There are lots of things we could do to solve more crimes,” Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of the ACLU told ABC.com in a recent interview. “We could allow police officers to go house to house and go through all of our belongings without a warrant. But is that a society we want to live in?”
Unlike fingerprints, which don’t carry intimate information, DNA contains data markers for up to 4,000 diseases. Critics told ABC.com that by forcibly collecting genetic samples, the government is violating the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
Civil liberties advocates are also alarmed about who exactly is entitled to genetic information and what security measures exist to counter theft. These issues recently came into play in Texas, where an ATM machine employs biometrics and scans the iris to discern the identity of the consumer.
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.
The Latest in National Security
ACLU Acknowledges Improvements to DOJ Racial Profiling Policy, But Says Far More is Needed
ACLU Applauds Court For Allowing Case Challenging FBI’s Wrongful Prosecution of Chinese American Physics Professor To Move Forward
Shen v. Simpson
Chinese Immigrants Sue Florida Over Unconstitutional and Discriminatory Law Banning Them From Buying Land
The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
Learn More About National Security
The ACLU’s National Security Project is dedicated to ensuring that U.S. national security policies and practices are consistent with the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights.