Oppose a Sweeping New Federal DNA Database! Say NO to the DNA Fingerprint Act!

Print Friendly and PDF

Synopsis

Go here to tell the government we don't want them to have the power to collect our DNA: http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=0900006480511b01

Description

At the end of 2005, a little-noticed provision was slipped into the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill that provided the federal government with the power to collect and permanently retain DNA samples from anyone arrested for any crime whether or not they are convicted, any non-U.S. citizen detained or stopped by federal authorities for any reason, and everyone in federal prison. Now the government is trying to put the DNA Fingerprint Act into practice. 

This is a dangerous invasion of privacy. DNA is not a fingerprint – it contains vast amounts of sensitive medical information about us. 

Congress held no hearings on this dangerous legislation, even though it:

  • threatens the privacy of millions of Americans;
  • has a disproportionate affect on people of color;
  • potentially clogs our criminal justice system with information about law-abiding people (which could hinder criminal investigations); and
  • turns the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” on its head.  

Implementation of this law means that more than one million innocent people will have their DNA forcibly collected, analyzed and retained in a government database each year. Federal agencies would be required to take DNA samples from:

  • Individuals arrested for the most minor of crimes, such as peaceful protestors who are demonstrating on federal property.
  • Countless numbers of visitors from other countries who are pulled aside in airports by the Transportation Security Administration.
  • Lawful immigrants seeking admission to this country, whether at the land border or in passport control at the airport.

Further, implementation of this law will have a dramatic impact on communities of color and further the assault on the rights of immigrants. Currently only a limited number of crimes trigger inclusion in the federal DNA database. By including the DNA profiles of everyone held in federal prisons, where people of color are held in alarming disproportion, this law aggravates the racial inequities of the federal criminal justice system. Collection of DNA from all immigration detainees will further slant the database toward a more disproportionate inclusion of Latinos.  

This is a potentially critical problem if the federal government were to permit what they call “familial searches,” already permitted in many states and in the UK, where law-enforcement use DNA profiles to search for genetic similarities. This effectively increases the reach of the database to include  the relatives of everyone whose profile is already there, creating an even greater racial imbalance in the system.  The number of people affected by the program would mushroom exponentially.