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Government expands DNA collection

December 15, 2008 by  

Anyone who is arrested for a federal crime will have to give DNAPrivacy and civil liberties groups have raised concern over new parameters that expand the number of people whose DNA can be collected by the government.

Under new Justice Department rules set to take effect on January 9th, law enforcement officials will be able to take DNA samples from all non-U.S. citizens who have been detained, as well as anyone who has been arrested for a federal crime.

The announcement comes after the European Court of Human rights unanimously struck down a similar policy in the UK, in which DNA was collected from all criminal suspects.

Currently, the government is only able to collect DNA from those who have actually been convicted of federal crimes – but the new rules allow agents to take it at the point of arrest instead.

Commenting on the new law, Kevin Johnson of Davis Law School told the LA Times that it is "unfair on so many levels it’s hard to describe."

"You can make the argument that we should take the DNA of the entire population because if we did it could help us solve crimes. But we’ve made this decision that as a society … the freedoms that we stand for are more important," he said.

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