The FBI and states are, more and more, taking DNA from people who haven't even been convicted of any crimes. In Britain, it has played out racially, where the vast majority of DNA collected is from groups that are a minority in the population. Why should the government have this information for petty crimes? Is this not discriminatory and invasive? Your thoughts. We'll be discussing in the last hour (5 ET) of the show:
The police say that the potential hazards of genetic surveillance are worth it because it solves crimes and because DNA is more accurate than other physical evidence. “I’ve watched women go from mug-book to mug-book looking for the man who raped her,” said Mitch Morrissey, the Denver district attorney and an advocate for more expansive DNA sampling. “It saves women’s lives.”
Mr. Morrissey pointed to Britain, which has fewer privacy protections than the United States and has been taking DNA upon arrest for years. It has a population of 61 million — and 4.5 million DNA profiles. “About 8 percent of the people commit about 70 percent of your crimes, so if you can get the majority of that community, you don’t have to do more than that,” he said.
In the United States, 8 percent of the population would be roughly 24 million people.
Britain may provide a window into America’s genetic surveillance future: As of March 2008, 857,000 people in the British database, or about one-fifth, have no current criminal record. In December, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Britain violated international law by collecting DNA profiles from innocent people, including children as young as 10.
Critics are also disturbed by the demographics of DNA databases. Again Britain is instructive. According to a House of Commons report, 27 percent of black people and 42 percent of black males are genetically registered, compared with 6 percent of white people.