DNA
© PA
from the sorry,-that's-unconstitutional dept

A year ago, we wrote about a legal challenge concerning the constitutionality of a California law that requires police to collect and store DNA of anyone arrested (not convicted). A California state appeals court has now struck down the law, saying that it's a violation of the 4th Amendment. Considering all of the rulings lately that seem to have done away with the 4th Amendment, it's nice to see one going in the other direction, though I'm sure there's still going to be an appeal. And, unfortunately, the article linked above suggests that this ruling will likely get reversed on appeal, noting that a federal appeals court (third circuit) recently ruled on the same issue, and said it's fine to collect DNA from arrestees. Still, while this court ruling is still in effect in CA, we might as well quote the judge:
Even focusing on the DNA profile alone, the analogy to fingerprints is blind to the nature of DNA. Courts are well aware that - [r]ecent studies have begun to question the notion that junk DNA does not contain useful genetic programming material and that an intense debate on this subject is now taking place in scientific and legal communities. ... Like the DNA laws of almost every other state and federal law, the DNA Act is silent as to how long these specimens and samples may be kept, and it is reasonable to expect they will be preserved long into the future, when it may be possible to extract even more personal and private information than is now the case. ... [T]he Act places few restrictions on the law enforcement uses to which such information may be put. This raises questions both about the kind of personal and private information that may be derived from the DNA samples in the DOJ's possession, and the uses of that biometric data as scientific developments increase the type and amount of information that can be extracted from it. For example, commentators have discussed the potential for research to identify genetic causes of antisocial behavior that might be used to justify various crime control measures. Fingerprinting presents no comparable threat to privacy.
One hopes the CA Supreme Court or another federal court comes to its senses and agrees on this, but it seems unlikely.