I have written often about a powerful new tool now being used by genealogists: DNA. We are just beginning to learn how to find all the hereditary information that is available within microscopic body samples. However, Rick Weiss, a staff reporter at the Washington Post, warns of a different, much darker side of DNA.
Writing in Saturday's edition, Weiss points out that the U.S. government already has DNA data of more than 3 million Americans and is adding information about 80,000 more citizens every month. In short, the government now knows more about you than you do. "It's like a Social Security number, but not assigned by the government," said Michael Smith, a University of Wisconsin law professor who favors a national database of every American's genetic ID with certain restrictions.
Now some law enforcement officials are calling for a national registry of the DNA profile of every American, which police could instantly compare against crime-scene specimens. Advocates say the system would dissuade many would-be criminals and help capture the rest.
However, those concerned about personal privacy have an opposing view. Most discussion focuses on the limits of the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from being swept into criminal investigations unless there is good reason to suspect they have broken the law. Other concerns center on accuracy: many past attempts to use DNA information have failed because of major errors in the lab work.
In fact, this issue makes for strange bedfellows. Conservative and liberal political organizations are joining together to stop government snooping. "These databases are starting to look more like a surveillance tool than a tool for criminal investigation," said Tania Simoncelli of the American Civil Liberties Union.
You can read this interesting story at http://tinyurl.com/zxvhc.