Court to reconsider legality of California's warrantless DNA collection program in light of new 'junk' DNA research

Monday, September 24, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: DNS collection, police, privacy

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(NaturalNews) The United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit will soon hear new arguments in a case that challenges the legitimacy and constitutionality of California's warrantless DNA collection program. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a privacy and freedom advocacy group, reports that the results of a comprehensive new study which proves that more than 80 percent of so-called "junk" DNA actually reveals extensive private details about individuals will now be considered by the court as part of its decision in this landmark case.

Back in May, we reported on the growing trend among federal, and even some local, law enforcement agencies to forcibly collect DNA samples from detainees without probable cause, and before such individuals have even been charged with any real crime. In clear violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been spearheading a movement from the top down to encourage the illegal harvesting of DNA samples from every person without warrant, including from children. (http://www.naturalnews.com/035905_kids_blood_samples_DNA.html)

In 2004, California voters actually passed a ballot measure known as Proposition 69 that allows law enforcement to collect DNA from any person arrested on felony charges, regardless of whether or not that person actually committed a crime. Defenders of such warrantless DNA collection practices claim they do not violate constitutional statutes because most DNA is essentially "junk," they say, and does not reveal any personal or private details about individuals.

Not long after Prop. 69 was passed; however, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the measure, which provisions state that DNA samples collected be submitted to a nationwide database maintained by the federal government. Plaintiffs in the case, known as Haskell v. Harris, have maintained that, regardless of the type of information revealed by DNA, collection of it without warrant is illegal. (www.eff.org)

ENCODE study proves there is no such thing as 'junk' DNA

But their case has gotten even stronger thanks to a newly released project known as the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, or ENCODE for short, which reveals that so-called "junk" DNA actually serves a very real purpose. It turns out that virtually all DNA can be used to extract private information from individuals, a shocking revelation that has powerful implications in this important case. (http://www.naturalnews.com/037176_junk_DNA_gene_switches_health.html)

"[T]he ENCODE research reinforces the points we've made multiple times before that DNA, whether it is in the form of a full genetic sample or an extracted profile, can reveal an extraordinary amount of private information about you, including familial relationships, medical history, predisposition for disease, and possibly even behavioral tendencies and sexual orientation," says EFF.

This changes everything as far as warrantless DNA collection is concerned, as the excuses used by authorities to try to legitimize this unconstitutional practice purport that individual privacy will remain intact throughout the entire process. The ENCODE research proves that this is definitely not the case, and will hopefully attain honest consideration in the upcoming Haskell v. Harris hearing.

"Warrantless DNA collection leads to concrete harms because it increases risks from sloppy policing and systemic DNA lab problems," adds EFF. "DNA collection also leads to intangible harms to privacy and civil liberties that are no less protected by the Fourth Amendment."

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