For example, in May, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) endorsed a DNA database to verfiy legal US workers. In opposition, the NYCLU asserts that the view that DNA is the "gold standard" of forensic science "reflects a misunderstanding of the science and good law enforcement practice." For example, "[t]he Houston Police Department closed its DNA lab in 2003 after it released from prison two men who had been falsely incriminated by faulty lab work."
The DNA database currently has 3 million profiles and is growing at the rate of 80,000 per day. But a 2004 study states that DNA "sweeps" of possible suspects are "ineffective." (pdf) In the cases analyzed in this report, "the police requested DNA samples in an effort to identify an offender... It is recommended that law enforcement agencies not conduct DNA sweeps based on general descriptions or profiles of criminal suspects."
Add to this: the GAO questions federal agency methods to protect our privacy during performing data mining. Why then, would we extend the randomness by searching a database of millions ... especially when our violent crime rate continues to decline?
The FBI database once held only convicted felon profiles. Today it includes those who were simply arrested or convicted of a minor crime, according to the Boston Globe. In 2003, the Bush Administration proposed expanding the database from convicted felons to "juvenile offenders and ... adults who have been arrested but not convicted."
In September, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard a bill (S 1606) which would permit federal law enforcement to take DNA samples from anyone arrested. Not convicted? You'd have to petitition to have your DNA removed from the database.
Last month, the FBI announced that "[a] new computer program planned for this fall will compare genetic profiles taken from unidentified bodies or body parts with DNA submitted by family members of missing persons."
Two contrasting views are offered in the Seattle Times analysis:
(1) "This is the single best way to catch bad guys and keep them off the street," said Chris Asplen, a lawyer with the Washington firm Smith Alling Lane and former executive director of the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence.
(2) "We don't know all the potential uses of DNA, but once the state has your sample and there are not limits on how it can be used, then the potential civil-liberty violations are as vast as the uses themselves," said Carol Rose of the ACLU of Massachusetts.
In November 2004, California voters overwhelmingly approved Prop69, which expanded the state's DNA database to anyone arrested for a felony, even if never charged. State data suggest that one-third of those arrested are either not charged or are found not guilty. But their DNA would be in the database -- the state is not required to remove it.
The ACLU filed a class action suit, Weber v. Lockyer, which was dismissed by the court as premature. (pdf) The Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, is a co-sponsor of AB 2850, which makes "technical changes" to the initiative.
The Genome Project has information on DNA forensics.