Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I recently ran across an AP story
on a US Federal program authorized by Congress that would allow the Justice Department to collect DNA from anyone arrested or detained, even if not charged. Some thirteen states already had similar laws: Alaska, Arizona, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. What is of concern, is not just the collection of genetic material but the archiving of it in the National DNA Index System
and larger CODIS (Combined DNA Index System). CODIS
is actually a software system for organizing and making accessible genetic data, between National, State and Local agencies.
Of course, the development of CODIS involves private corporations in its creation and application. Companies like Science Applications International Corporation
(SAIC). SAIC, is also notable for its joint venture with Bechtel
working on the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility
. Other companies, like Orchid Cellmark
, are involved in genetic testing for both self-surveillance applications (i.e. consumer DNA testing) and state-sponsored surveillance, like CODIS.
With the boom in consumer DNA "consulting"
that I have written about here in the past, the increase in state indexing takes on some new meaning. As we have seen with communications surveillance, with telecos sharing data with the National Security Agency, for example, there should be little doubt that genetic information could and would cross state-corporate boundaries.