In Case You Needed Something Else to Worry About: Your DNA no Longer Belongs to YOU

If you were considering getting yourself arrested (you know, just to broaden your life experience, etc.), today’s MAJOR Supreme Court decision offers yet one more reason to seriously think again. As the four dissenting justices pointed out, any arrest – right or wrong, and for any reason – will now likely result in police gathering and permanently storing a sample of your DNA. Keep in mind that scientists’ ability to gain more and more information from a simple DNA swab is growing exponentially: Information about everything from your (or your family members’) identity, your odds of getting certain types of diseases, your ability to conceive healthy children, your ancestry, and soon, who knows what else (think “Minority Report” here . . . in other words, whether you have the sort of brain chemistry that makes you more or less likely to commit crimes IN THE FUTURE). The negative implications for already diminished US civil liberties (and the 4th Amendment specifically) are truly staggering. Interesting also that, of all the Justices, Scalia seemed to understand these dangers most clearly. Once your DNA belongs to the police, it could be mishandled, studied without your consent or, in an even more frightening scenario, sold to a third party contractor.  So around thirty years from now, when you run into someone who happens to look like an identical (albeit younger) version of yourself, remember: you heard it first at

“A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday said police can routinely take DNA from people they arrest, equating a DNA cheek swab to other common jailhouse procedures like fingerprinting. ‘Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,;’ Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court’s five-justice majority. But the four dissenting justices said that the court was allowing a major change in police powers. ‘’Make no mistake about it: because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason,’’ conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said in a sharp dissent which he read aloud in the courtroom.”

[“Court: Police can take DNA swabs from arrestees,” The Boston Globe, 6/3/2013]

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