Monday, January 15, 2007

Whose Your Daddy? Or, Guilt by DNA Association

If Homeland Security watch lists, phone call monitoring, email and internet monitoring, every cell phone a bug, and sweeping new powers to open your mail without a warrant were not enough to bother you, hang on. Now the bad egg in your bloodline could be used against you.

The December 2006, issue of Scientific American has this news article, “Partial to Crime: Families Become Suspects As Rules On DNA Matches Relax”, by Sally Lehrman. Below are excerpts.
If a sibling or other close relation of yours ever went to prison for more than a year, suspicion of criminal behavior now extends to you. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently opened its forensic DNA database of felony offenders and certain other arrestees to allow states to share information that does no exactly match blood, semen or other crime scene evidence but may come close enough to finger a relative. Critics fear, however, that partial matches intrude on privacy and cast suspicion far too widely.

Nationally officials have compiled more than 3.6 million profiles based on 13 regions, or loci, of the human genome that vary among individual people.

When labs can show a match is close enough to indicate a likely relative—that is, when at least one of the two versions (alleles) of the gene segment at each locus matches up—and there are no other leads, a new interim plan allows states to disclose identifying information on FBI approval.

By widening its net, law enforcement can move more quickly and potentially head off future crimes, Bieber, points out. Critics wonder, however, whether extending genetics surveillance from individuals already associated with crime to their families will help catch enough criminals to outweigh its likely intrusion on privacy and civil liberties. “We’re talking about innocent people by proxy being included in this database,” objects Tania Simoncelli, science adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“We’re kind of blundering ahead with this technology,” worries William Thompson, a criminologist at the University of California, Irvine, who would like to see the government open up the database for independent scrutiny and statistical analysis. He is especially concerned about the reports of faked test results and poor-quality lab work such as cross-contamination and sample mix-ups.

So, George Orwell was maybe 20 years behind on his predictions because of technology, but his understanding of government paranoia is scary. I really detest the hypocritical, dual nature of the message our government presents. To the world and our young soldiers, we say freedom is worth dying for. However, to our citizenry we say you must be willing to forego some freedoms for safety.” At what price--morally, ethically, and monetarily?


Paul said...

That is incredible!

jettybetty said...

Scary stuff~~
**taking a deep breath and repeating--God is in control**

JMG said...

Pardon my language, but this just sucks! Where will they stop? Actually, they won't stop until we yell loud enough.

Tony Arnold said...

Be careful JMG, I think the next step may be to go after those that yell to much.

You know one thing that bothers me a little, is the 18-25 year olds, especially those in college. They do not seem to be as involved on issues like they were in the '60's and 70's. And you would think this time in our nation would be ripe for a little bit of liberal rebellion by this group.

Now I am not an advocate of liberal rebellion, whatever that really means anyway, but I do think it has a vital role of at making people aware of issues, making them aware there is a large segment disagreeing with certain issues, and bringing issues to light.

It provides some balance. That is what is wrong wiht our government over the last 6 years, lack of balance. We have a Republican Congress, Senate, and Administration and a conservative Supreme Court. We lost the balance of power that the system was designed to maintain. I believe that an imbalance either to the right or the left is not good for our country.

jettybetty said...

O Tony! You don't know Aggie-ed and his friends very well--they are not openly rebellious--but they ARE openly unhappy. In 04 I think the college students were pretty apathetic in the election--I don't expect that in 08--I expect them to have something to say! Hang on!!!