Storing DNA At Birth

Concerns over violations of privacy can too easily fall into a fear spiral of worst case scenarios. I think privacy is a very important staple of a free society, but we have to keep it in perspective, and weigh both the pros and cons of privacy (and the government-backed violation of it) in a reasonable, calm, logical manner.

I say that because it always surprises me just how outraged people are at the proposed idea that the government will store the DNA of all newborns for the purpose of quickly identifying them via matching of DNA samples at the scene of a crime. It’s a good instinct, but I don’t like how much irrational emotion (vs reason) is often behind it.

DNA, like fingerprints, is biometric information that can be used to efficiently identify an individual with near-perfect accuracy. At hearing this, immediately people begin imagining the oppressive horrors of a mass surveillance state. But does a national DNA database really provide the government with broad oppressive power? And if it did, do we really have the kind of system that would utilize that power to violate the fundamental rights of individuals?

If it’s not clear yet, I’m a proponent of storing DNA of all citizens. I believe that DNA information is the perfect kind of identifier that the government should have. It can’t really be used to track an individual, but it can be used in the case of a crime to identify potential suspects.

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