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New DNA Technologies Could Solve Crimes Faster, but Violate Citizens’ Privacy Rights

Over the last year, the backlog in Florida’s forensic laboratories has created a significant issue for those crimes relying on DNA evidence. According to a Sun Sentinel article, more than 13,400 rape kits have remained untested. Though the submission of rape kits is not required by Florida (and is up to the discretion of local law enforcement agencies whether to proceed or not with the DNA testing), it has shed light on a serious issue that goes beyond just rape kits: DNA testing and its efficiency within state laboratories.

The Rapid DNA Device

DNA testing devices, like other technologies, have not remained dormant. In most traditional laboratories, DNA testing takes at least two days and must be processed within a laboratory. This inefficiency in the system, coupled with a significant backlog in the number of tests that need to be administered, make the status quo impossible to maintain. A new technology has been unveiled that will have significant positive and negative consequences. The machine, a rapid DNA device, is about the size of a microwave and can check DNA results within two hours, simply through the insertion of cheek swabs.

The Pros and Cons of the Rapid DNA Device

The rapid DNA device could have serious ramifications on the privacy of individuals around the country because of its portability and the fact that it is an individual and not a designated, certified laboratory that would be able to assure and attest to the results. The implications of being able to operate this device anywhere by anyone could be utilized beyond its initial scope and violate private citizens’ rights.

Use of the Device by Department of Homeland Security and FBI

The use of this rapid DNA device is being contemplated by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. The Department of Homeland Security is looking to use the DNA device as part of a pilot program that will verify biological kinship between parents and children that are crossing the border, to ensure that only related individuals are able to stay in the country under the appropriate visa. The FBI is hoping that this rapid DNA device could eventually connect the results to the FBI’s national, genetic database known as CODIS. At this moment, results from the rapid DNA device are not connected to CODIS, as CODIS results are required to be processed and certified in accredited laboratories. The connecting of the rapid DNA device to CODIS would make it possible to determine almost immediately whether someone in a booking station is connected or responsible for a crime in another county, locality, or even state. Others believe that the technology may be suitable for identifying victims involved in a mass casualty or natural disaster.

The Significant Possibility of Privacy Concerns

Opponents of the rapid DNA device have significant fears about the use of this machine violating the rights of many, as the DNA device could reveal health information and other data that would not normally be revealed that could “out” many – such as a significant health problem such as cancer or HIV/AIDS. Many who are concerned about the way the Department of Homeland Security is looking to utilize the data believe that the DNA tests could show that a child was conceived as a result infidelity or rape and force the children apart from their families for not being “biologically related”.

Many are also against the new technology because of its significant price tag: the rapid DNA testing device costs about $350 per sample, more expensive than traditional DNA testing through a laboratory.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

DNA testing has the power to put us behind bars or set us free. It is important that DNA testing occurs pursuant to the law and you are not deprived of your DNA without due process. It is important to speak with an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik who may help guide you through the criminal justice system. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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