Imagine being required to submit to DNA testing before boarding an airplane or receiving a driver’s license. Most Americans would balk at the idea and consider such practices as being a gross invasion of privacy. While these examples may seem extreme, many argue that a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court sets a dangerous precedent which allows for the widespread collection by police of DNA samples.

In a 5 to 4 ruling, members of the Supreme Court upheld a law allowing for the widespread collection of DNA samples from arrested individuals. The high court was asked to weigh in on a Maryland law that allows police to take DNA samples from individuals upon their arrest without first obtaining a search warrant.

Colorado is among the 28 states that have similar laws allowing police to readily collect DNA samples. In Colorado, the passage of a 2010 law allowed police to collect DNA from those individuals arrested and convicted of a felony. With the ruling by the Supreme Court, it’s likely that Colorado lawmakers will attempt to pass more invasive laws allowing police to collect DNA samples from any individual that is arrested.

Proponents of the widespread collection of DNA samples argue the practice has led to the arrest of several individuals who committed unsolved violent crimes. Those opposed to widespread collection of DNA samples believe the sanctioning of such practices infringe on an individual’s right to privacy. Moreover, errors in the collection and processing of DNA samples could potentially result in the punishment and imprisonment of innocent American citizens.

Source: The Denver Post, ”
Supreme Court affirms Colorado DNA collection laws,” Sadie Gurman, June 4, 2013