The government’s plan to collect DNA from persons detained as they try to cross the U.S. border—and store it in an expanded FBI genetic database—could pose serious threats to privacy. Genetics and forensics experts also warn it will lead to the further criminalization of immigrants.
The FBI wants to open iPhones that belonged to the Saudi military student who killed three people last month at a naval base in Pensacola, Fl., signaling a revival of the fight between the federal government and Silicon Valley over encryption technology.
While ignition interlock devices have prevented thousands of drunken-driving crashes, they have also caused them by distracting drivers. And neither federal nor state regulators are studying the problem.
The technology also makes mistakes in identifying Native Americans and Asians, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The findings will strengthen critics who say the software, increasingly popular with U.S. law enforcement, not only threaten civil liberties but is subject to racial bias.
One of the world’s largest genetic genealogy websites, with 1.2 million DNA profiles, has been purchased by a San Diego forensic genetics company with the specific mission of helping police solve crimes.
In some departments, the databases are to be used only as a last resort. Others are putting them at the center of their investigative process. Some have no policies at all. When DNA services were used, law enforcement generally declined to provide details to the public, including which companies detectives got the match from.