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"DNA: The Fingerprint of the Future"

by Dr. Robert

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past ten years, you know that DNA (Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid) has become one of the best identifiers in courtrooms across the United States. Your DNA sequence is completely unique (unless you are an identical twin) and can not be altered. However, fingerprinting still holds one major advantage over DNA testing.

If you have ever been arrested, served in the military, or worked for the government, your fingerprints are already on file in a huge FBI database in Washington. Many states have implemented mandatory fingerprinting before applying for a driver's license. Programs such as KidSafe convince parents and schools to fingerprint children at an early age, claiming that this will help if your child is ever abducted, but allows the government to collect and catalog fingerprints from an even larger slice of the population. Therefore, if you leave a fingerprint at the scene of a crime, chances are that they can be matched against the samples that they have already have of your fingers.

However, this is not the case with DNA. Typically the procedure is as follows. A person leaves trace DNA evidence at the scene of a crime: blood, semen, saliva, hair follicles, or even skin cells. The investigators attempt to solve the crime from other evidence, and when a suspect is identified, they match the DNA left at the scene with DNA samples drawn from the suspect in custody. Of course, most guilty people will not consent to such a test, knowing that it will incriminate them, and investigators hit a wall.

But the FBI has come up with a viable solution to this huge gap in the legal process. If they had a database of DNA similar to the fingerprint database at their disposal, they could simply match evidence with the samples they have in Washington. But how will they build this database? Every time a person goes to the doctor or hospital, they are asked to provide proof of identification including their social security number, driver's license, and a major credit card. When doctors draw "routine blood work" they are also able to collect a sample of your DNA to catalog and store with the rest of your information. Facilities that comply are granted special government funding, which they so badly need in these days of PPOs and HMOs.

The goal behind this massive collection effort is simple. Next time that DNA is left at the scene of a crime, they can match it to the samples in their database, and use this to identify and convict the perpetrator. This will save hours of legwork and investigation, as well as solving more cases than ever before possible.

How could this possibly be a bad thing? With the falling price of DNA tests and increased credibility, the police will soon be able to collar every person who steals a bicycle or shoplifts a piece of gum. Other than our already overflowing courtrooms and prisons being hammered by a greatly increased caseload, what could be wrong? What else would the government possibly want with your genetic marker?

They can track and positively identify you no matter how many times your change your name or face. With samples of your blood on file, you could easily be framed for any offence.
Also, their techniques are fallible. No DNA lab takes the time to examine all three million bits of code in a DNA sequence, they simply compare small areas where there might be variation. Could you have a unique genetic code and yet still match up to the points examined and be accused of a crime you didn't commit? Most certainly! Computers and databases are imperfect at best and your records could be altered manually or by accident to improperly identify you as a serial killer. We should not have blind faith that some data entry clerk will be entering your information correctly at the end of a long day.

But what this all boils down to is a grand conspiracy to identify, number, and trace YOU. DNA is a great way to track criminals, but what happens when the government changes the definition of criminal to include your religious, sexual, or political orientation? Can you sleep at night knowing that any day your freedom can be compromised at the whim of the government? Maybe one day you'll march at a political rally and the next you disappear. Is your freedom of speech guaranteed when anything you say can be traced back to you and held against you? I guess there just isn't anyplace left in this digital world for privacy, anonymity, and the bill of rights.

What could you do to fight this? You could refuse all medical treatment, or give false identification to doctors. You could spend your life looking over your shoulder. Or you could just go along with it like the rest of the sheep and place your life in the hands of our infallible and uncorrupted government. After all, chances are you already carry a driver's license with a digital photo and electro-magnetic identification strip, a social security card issued to you at birth, credit and ATM cards, and bills with magnetic strips woven into the paper in your wallet. You're a good person, so you don't have anything to worry about when your DNA is collected and added to your growing file in Washington, or do you?


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