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Forced DNA Collection Without Search Warrant Violates Privacy Rights

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July 28, 2011

EFF Urges Appeals Court to Block Unconstitutional Federal Law

The forced collection of DNA samples from arrestees without search warrants violates their Fourth Amendment right to privacy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal appeals court in an amicus brief filed Monday.

A federal law mandates DNA collection as a condition for bail for people who have been arrested for felonies. The FBI receives the DNA samples, conducts an analysis, and places a profile into CODIS, a national database. Those who are not eventually convicted of a crime must make a request if they want their information removed from the FBI’s system, while the data collected without cause from other individuals remains permanently. In its amicus brief filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, EFF argues that this collection and storage is unconstitutional, violating the Fourth Amendment prohibition on baseless search and seizure of private information.

“DNA reveals an extraordinary amount of private information about you—your family background, your current health, your future propensity for disease, and possibly even your behavioral tendencies,” said EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury. “This data is bound to get even more sensitive as technology advances and we learn more about DNA.”

The widespread data collection mandated by this unconstitutional law was upheld by a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit. If the law is not struck down by the en banc court, it could open the door to other expansions of warrantless DNA collection.

“The government is collecting these genetic profiles without warrants and storing them in a database freely accessed by federal and state law enforcement agencies across the country,” said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. “We urge the 9th Circuit to reverse the opinion and strike down this sweeping law.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and Generations Ahead joined EFF in Monday’s amicus brief.

For the full amicus brief in US v. Pool:

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t


Hanni Fakhoury
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Jennifer Lynch
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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This article was posted: Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 2:41 am

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