For over a decade, there has been a controversial issue dealing with building a national DNA database. This issue has been brought up over the discussion of the actual database and what kinds of effects will come out of it, if it actually happens to go through. Some people think the database will be a force in crime fighting. Others think it is a violation of civil liberties.
In the early 1900s, “fingerprinting,” a new crime-fighting database, was developed. With the exception of identical twins, no two people have the same fingerprints. Every person who was arrested was fingerprinted, and those fingerprints were inserted into the FBI computer database. This database holds over 40 million fingerprints and this system is still used today. In 1984, a different forensic system developed that compared actual DNA profiles instead of fingerprints. In this day and age, all 50 states maintain a DNA database. Technology has become so advanced, that the slightest trace of any human individual can be used to create a DNA profile (DNA). All of this has been the start to the controversial issue of building up a national DNA database, with a DNA profile of literally every single American born into the United States. As more bills are passed to build the databases, this problem keeps developing. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) has been under great discussion since about 1995. Basically, this is a bill that prohibits insurance companies and employers to actually take action against an individual through their DNA, using the power of the government (Alston). The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act, which grants money to healthcare providers to collect genetic DNA to the state, is also a policy that has been proposed in the past to help this issue along.
While some argue that these policies and the national database are violations on human rights, others like the idea of a national DNA database, claiming that the United States would be a safer place to reside. Critics warn they are a conflict to civil liberties, especially the right to privacy. DNA holds personal and health-related information for each individual, and opponents argue the attainment of such information could be abused (DNA). For example, in his or her later years, a person may be denied health insurance because the government knows, through that individual’s DNA in their system, that they are at risk to a particular disease. This “genetic discrimination” is just one of the few concerns critics have with this policy. They also feel that the collection of DNA is a violation of the Fourth Amendment right, unreasonable search and seizure (DNA). One way critics are hoping to deal with this issue is by requiring consent from parents before taking DNA from newborns.
Supporters, however, keep pushing that the policy is an important step in the direction to better our safety and preventing crime. If an unknown individual commits a sexual assault or murder crime, the DNA from that individual is found, but the FBI or police do not have a DNA match in their system to find the offender, what good can it do? Supporters argue that in order to seriously prevent and solve crime, DNA is needed from everybody, right from birth. They feel the more profiles in the national database, the better the chance of catching criminals (DNA). While the Newborn Screening Act passed by a vote of 420 to 3 in the House and 95 to 0 in the Senate, the general public agrees more with the critics (Alston). Surprisingly, people are taking their own stand instead of going along with what the government thinks.
Civil liberties groups are most involved with this policy. They are completely against it and do not see how any good can come out of “violating someone’s personal rights.” Liberals and Democrats are also against taking a newborns DNA (Checklo). As these political groups are more prone to saving the rights of each individual, they are less likely to...
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