These days the bulk of conversation about privacy in this country has shifted to tech giants like Google, but a newly-proposed bill in Arizona is steering it back toward the original Big Brother, Uncle Sam.
The Arizona Republic reports that GOP state Rep. David Livingston has introduced legislation stating that if a job requires the government to take your fingerprints, then it should also take your DNA — and charge you $250 in the process. DNA could also be collected from dead bodies in government custody.
Any DNA in the database could be accessed and used by law enforcement in a criminal investigation. It could also be shared with other government agencies across the country for licensing, death registration, to identify a missing person or to determine someone’s real name.
It could also be provided to someone conducting “legitimate research” […]
No other state has anything this expansive in place, according to David Kaye, an associate dean for research at Penn State University who studies genetics and its application in law.
The proposal appears to be motivated at least partially by a recent case in which DNA was used to identify a nurse who raped a patient, but even that is speculation at this point — bizarrely, the paper notes that “Livingston has not publicly explained the motivation behind the bill. He didn’t respond to multiple calls from The Arizona Republic.”
The list of professions the mandate would apply to is pretty lengthy. It includes various positions pertaining to education, foster care, child care, elderly care, health and homeless services, law enforcement, real estate agents, and more.
As one would expect, it’s getting some stiff opposition, NewsMax reports, including from the West Maricopa Association of Realtors and the Arizona Police Association.
On the one hand, an argument could be made that this bill is simply trying to modernize, since every affected job already submits fingerprints to the state without controversy. On the other hand, it’s obvious that much more can be learned from DNA than by fingerprints, which means more danger of abuse.
How different is one from the other? Is the real problem not necessarily the addition of DNA, but that some of these professions shouldn’t require giving the state DNA or fingerprints? And why did Livingston want to introduce this in the first place?
The good news is that the bill is slated to get a public committee hearing on Wednesday, so we shouldn’t have to wait too long before getting an answer to that last question, if nothing else.
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