So the plan is to get a DNA sample from anyone arrested for a federal charge, and anyone picked up on immigration charges. This will add more than a million records to the database every year.
One of the strongest arguments against consumer genetic profiling is to prevent this information from becoming available to law enforcement. With the horrible record they have of keeping our private information secure, I don’t think they can be trusted with this kind of information, but can it be stopped? Is there any way to prevent the dystopian future of not only medical, but marketing and economic and employment decisions made about you based on your genetic profile?
I know many people take the position that they’ve got nothing to hide, so they’re not worried, and anyways, they’d willingly give it up if it could help apprehend rapists. In fact, enough people who are related to you probably think this way that it doesn’t really matter if they don’t get everybody, but I am starting to feel like this is Pandora’s box.
The average citizen and the average lawmaker doesn’t deal with huge databases, doesn’t understand statistical inference, and just isn’t equipped to consider the effects something like this will have on society. I don’t think I’ll feel comfortable with this information even being collected until there’s a framework controlling who gets access to what, monitoring who got access to what and what they did with it, and providing for remedies to the affected people when someone’s information gets accessed without authorization. We can’t have such legislation until lawmakers properly understand the issues. How many of them don’t even understand the difference between correlation and causation? Many tenured faculty don’t even fully appreciate the difference, so how can a layman?
We don’t even have appropriate remedies when credit information gets breached. Companies voluntarily decide to offer credit monitoring to affected people. That’s the remedy provided consumers, and it’s based on voluntary disclosure of the breach. How would someone even know that they were affected by inappropriate disclosure of their genetic information?
I know everyone is worrying about the economy, the elections, the war, the olympics, the pope, and everything else that’s grabbing the headlines, but it’s a critical failure to let this slip by without appropriate public comment. The Register, a UK IT publication, is covering the story, but there’s little mention in the domestic media. Here’s a article from the Washington Post, which isn’t on the front page, but can be found by searching for “NDIS federal”. There’s actually nothing on Google News about this either unless you search, which only turns up the article above.