29 December 2008

let. to ed. re. "Lawyers Fight DNA Samples Gained on Sly" -- NY Times

Ms. Harmon’s recent article surveying the expansion of warrantless collections of DNA is particularly thought provoking; Whereas, a simple fingerprint merely identifies the individual, unrestrained collecting of DNA can disclose personal and private information, irrespective of the relevance to the case or the guilt of the suspect.

With rapidly evolving DNA technology, it is now possible to extract vast amounts of genomic data from the biological miscellany that is continuously shed over our daily lives. Science can discern details of a person's appearance, latent diseases, and even personality traits from this genomic data, exposing not only the suspect’s personal information but their relatives’ as well.

As law enforcement collects and archives DNA, this link to personal information will be perpetuated and privacy never completely restored.

Any legal or ethical discussion ought to be cognizant of these very real concerns, especially with regard to data security and sharing protocols.

Dov Greenbaum JD, PhD and Mark Gerstein PhD

Above is an unpublished letter in response to:
Amy Harmon's article: Lawyers Fight DNA Samples Gained on Sly

NY Times,
April 3 2008