Tuesday, February 10, 2009

ACLU Action Alert for Wash State Residents: DNA Collection

Shades of Big Brother!

Do we really want our government to collect this highly private data from us?   What has this alert got to do with nudism?

Well, besides being none of our government's business, this bill essentially authorizes (in fact, mandates) the collection of DNA from any person arrested for any crime, including gross misdemeanors.  Indecent Exposure is a gross misdemeanor under some circumstnces in this state . . . so if the police decide to arrest a participant in the World Naked Bike Ride instead of ignoring it, they are going to have their DNA collected and sent to a database.  They don't have to be charged . . . they don't have to be convicted . . . they simply have to be arrested.  And in the state of Washington the police do not have to have a warrant to arrest someone for indecent exposure . . . merely a complaint or probable cause.

You'd be naive to believe assurances that data will be removed if you are cleared.  Once in the blackhole of a governmental database (and shared with federal and other state databases) your DNA profile will always be there . . . with the reason why.  Say 'no' to this one.  Click the 'Take Action' button at the bottom of this post and write your legislator.

ACLU Action Alert

DNA Collection Bill HB 1382

House Bill 1382 would expand mandatory DNA collection to include people who are merely arrested for a crime, whether or not they are ever convicted.

People Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty
One of the bedrocks of our society is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. This bill would allow an unreasonable search and seizure of an innocent person's most personal information. Many people who are arrested are never charged with a crime, and even more are never convicted of a crime.

DNA Is Your Most Private Information
Unlike fingerprints, DNA can be used for far more than simply identifying individuals. DNA is your most private information. It includes information about your susceptibility to diseases and mental illnesses, as well as about your blood relatives and ancestors. Given how sensitive this information is, the government should be allowed to collect it only in very limited circumstances.

DNA Information Can Be Misused
As long as your DNA sample is available, it is susceptible to misuse, as has happened in many other databases across the country. Creating a larger database of DNA samples will tempt the government to use your DNA for ever-expanding purposes.

Expanding DNA Collection Is Not an Effective Crime Solver
Expanding the collection of DNA to include everyone who is arrested is not an effective way to solve crimes. By adding the samples of thousands of innocent people, it will overburden the capacity of our crime labs and create large backlogs. And because people of color are disproportionately arrested, they will also be overrepresented in the DNA database.

DNA Collection Is Expensive
Testing, analyzing, and storing DNA from everyone who is arrested would be very expensive. It would cost millions of dollars in a time of budget crisis. Our resources for criminal justice would be much better spent on more effective measures.

This action alert is for residents of the following states only: Washington

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