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Searching DNA For Relatives Raises Concerns 199

Posted by kdawson
from the database-creep dept.
An anonymous reader calls our attention to California's familial searching policy, which looks for genetic ties between culprits and kin. The technique has come to the fore in the last few years, after a Colorado prosecutor pushed the FBI to relax its rules on cross-state searches. "Los Angeles Police Department investigators want to search the state's DNA database again — not for exact matches but for any profiles similar enough to belong to a parent or sibling. The hope is that one of those family members might lead detectives to the killer. This strategy, pioneered in Britain, is poised to become an important crime-fighting tool in the United States. The Los Angeles case will mark the first major use of California's newly approved familial searching policy, the most far-reaching in the nation."
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Searching DNA For Relatives Raises Concerns

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  • by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:43PM (#25893479)
    Looks like a double entendre tag to me.
    • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:40PM (#25894081)
      I wonder what happens if son/daughter is adopted and doesn't know, yet this shows DNA link to a criminal parent. That's a nasty shock to the system, I can just see it now:

      Officer: Hi, can you tell us where that lowlife father of your is?
      Kid: He is at work at the moment.
      Officer: Yeah, drop the act kid, he ain't worked a day of his life. Now, where is he ya little lying bastard?
      Kid: He will come home from work in three hours...

      *three hours later*

      Officer: This ain't your dad! Quit fucking with us here!
      Kid: Whaaaaaaa! (Or any other such life changing crying sound when you suddenly find out you are adopted and your whole life has been a lie)
      • by Xiroth (917768) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:46PM (#25894143)

        Good point. Or consider problems that could come up if the kid's biological father was an anonymous sperm donor - could be bad if either the kid or the biological father got into trouble.

        • What about clones? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by psyclone (187154) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @09:17PM (#25894407)

          Great points of this post's parent and grandparent; especially relative to descendants.

          Any questions involving genetic information should be examined with a long-term view. Perhaps not now, but think of future Clones. Should a cloned human pay the price of his/her predecessors genetic information? The mistakes they made in their previous life may affect their future life as a new individual. Communities of people, not just atomic families, may be singled out or "behaviorally predetermined" to commit crime simply on genetic heritage, of which they have no control. Perhaps that genetic heritage is combined with economic, credit, health and lifestyle information?

          It is only a matter of time until the cost of mapping 'enough'* of every living human's genome will be 'worth it'*. Shortly after, the cost of genome-mapping all available deceased humans will be negligible. The field of medicine will flourish with this information. (You may even gain heath insurance discounts with a year's proof of purchase at the grocery store -- you are rewarded for eating relative to your pre-determined health risks.)

          Yet every individual's privacy will diminish with access (any access) to a history of humanity's genetic information. Thus, thinking about DNA databases must be done with a long-term perspective.

          * = Where the information's value to society --be it a friendly or otherwise group of people-- outweighs the cost of gathering it. Perhaps the equivalent cost of fingerprinting every newborn baby equals the cost of genome mapping every newborn baby.

        • by sillybilly (668960) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:22PM (#25894899)
          Or imagine a tool like this in the hands of Hitler. That's what's most wrong with this whole thing, the power it gives to someone over other people. Anonymity and privacy, being shielded and safe from some paternalistic overseeing power entity should be a right. Power should be given to government only as much as necessary. Such databases should be in the private sphere, held by someone like the clergy with the "seal of the confessional", or by attorneys in a fashion similar to attorney-client privilege. We need a system of internetized public notaries/attorneys holding confidential private information, regarding issues of identity, privacy, will/testament etc. Some kind of distributed database with confidentiality barriers. Queries run against it, and people having to give consent before answers are released. Government access to it should be absolutely limited, with very strict rights and needing a warrant. In fact no central databases should exist, but some kind of public key/private key system published by many attorneys, or public notaries, from which matches can be found, such as relatives, or criminals, without revealing identity. To a posted public key search the other local small databases should react, and if they find themselves to be a match to a request, they should ask the owner of that DNA whether he would like to reveal his identity to the query. Of course you would find no criminals this way, because who would confess, yes, I'm the one. But that's exactly what the 5th amendment is about, it's not about making law enforcement easy, to the contrary, protecting individual liberty at the price of "security", or "ease of law enforcement." Compiling databases about everybody in the name of security - well, you know what the founding fathers said: those who sacrifice liberty for security will get neither. A social security number databases tagging everyone for tax collection purposes should suffice. Fingerprint databases feel already too private, but all they reveal is your physical presence at a location, if you didn't wear gloves. And they are harder to plant than dna samples of hair, blood, etc. Fingerprints in the name of law enforcement, I can agree to that, because they don't contain much else about you. DNA, that's a whole other beast than a fingerprint. Occasional DNA tests by police, comparing suspects to locally found evidence could be OK, with the data returned to the owners, or owner's assigned attorney/public notary after the completion of the trial. It should not be allowed to be archived, even if it means a whole lot of wasted work, and having to redo everything over and over. Or who do you trust? You should not feel more secure because of the databases compiled in the name of security, if anything, fear some coup, some power takeover at the top by some mad men. Then imagine what power they will have over you to deride you and ride you to hell and back, simply because they feel like it. And you're at fault, who previously sacrificed your privacy and anonymity in the name of security. What security? If you have many small localized/secret databases exchanging information only as needed, in case of a power coup at the top, well, my neighborhood notary public might be willing to hide my DNA from the new government, just like some people were willing to hide jews during the Nazi regime. People being able to disobey laws is a prerequisite of liberty. Where is the guarantee that we will never have another criminal regime like that in power, coming up with laws that are criminal. The time to defend is now. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Law enforcement is important, but so is the 5th amendment, which is more important than law enforcement itself. So how can you hide your DNA, how can you stay anonymous, retain your privacy in this world? Is that even possible? No. But at least we could have a makebelieve, pretend to respect each others rights to privacy world. Anytime you give blood, or a hair sample, for a simple thing as a drug test, others have your DNA, if that sample is tied to you in
          • by dwarg (1352059) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @08:07AM (#25898155)

            Paragraphs man, paragraphs! It's a wall of bloody text up there. Not to mention a premature and gratuitous execution of Godwin's Law That said:

            Power should be given to government only as much as necessary. Such databases should be in the private sphere, held by someone like the clergy with the "seal of the confessional", or by attorneys in a fashion similar to attorney-client privilege. We need a system of internetized public notaries/attorneys holding confidential private information, regarding issues of identity, privacy, will/testament etc.

            So, government bad, but combining the clergy and attorneys "in the private sector" WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong?!? Or in other words, what we need to do is create another quasi-governmental agency (that answers to whom?) to entrust this super secret information to, but since it isn't called "government" it's somehow better than what it really is?

            You then go on to say that this entire mythical structure you've created would be useless because they wouldn't actually give out the information law enforcement is looking for. So why the hell are you suggesting we create it in the first place?

            You're entire post can be reduced to, "No! The gub'mint can't have my bodily fluid data." Saving you time you could use to add another layer to your tinfoil hat and haul a few more wheelbarrows of dirt out of your survivalist's bunker.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hajihill (755023)
          I had a conversation and a dream about this just last week. No joke. And this time your tin foil hats won't help you.

          I think the technology is there for the government to take genetic samples from everyone in the U.S. armed forces, and thereby build a database in which they could match any found genetic material by gene clade, and describe your relationship, and triangulate your placement in the larger family tree, with a reasonable degree of certainty.

          More simply put, a hair or skin flake on the grou
      • Maybe the [adoptive] parents shouldn't lie to their kids?

      • by js_sebastian (946118) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:11AM (#25897847)
        There was a similar issue in Italy. If you are a foreigner (from some non-EU country) legally working in Italy, and you want your family to join you, you can apply for them to get a visa. Since some of the countries these people come from have very poor records on this type of stuff, there was a proposal to verify this (no idea if it was accepted) with a DNA test, to see if those you claim are your children really are.

        Big brother issues aside, the problem is that some children may be adopted, and that the issue of parenthood is not as clear-cut as we would like to think. As well as the old latin saying:

        Mater semper certa est, pater numquam.
      • Even worse. That "father" is going to find out that I porked his wife and the kid is really mine - fodder for the Rikki Lake, Heraldo Rivera, etc show.
      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        I wonder what happens if son/daughter is adopted and doesn't know, yet this shows DNA link to a criminal parent.

        Although your idea is interesting, your logic is faulty.

        If an adopted child has a birth parent who is a criminal and the child has DNA in the database, then police would want to contact the child to find the birth parent. But, they would know the child is adopted, since the only way to locate them would be to go through adoption records.

        The reverse (child given up for adoption who is a criminal, and birth parent is a near match in the database) is a little different, but the parent usually knows they have

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BlairAtRice (886637)
        This violates civil liberties in so many ways.

        The chance may be very small, but if I share 1/4 of the markers with a suspect (as a sibling would) then I have to deal with hassle of being questioned by the feds. It's profiling. You can't pull over everyone driving a lexus in a low income neighborhood looking for stolen cars and you can't question everyone who has a given number of repeats at a certain locus in hopes of finding a criminal.
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:43PM (#25893497) Journal

    I suppose this might be slightly off-topic, but one concern I have with the use of DNA evidence is that, now that everybody knows about DNA evidence, what's to stop someone from planting DNA evidence at a crime scene? Splash some body fluids here, drop some hair there, and smear some skin cells at a strategic location, and voila "we have DNA evidence that places the defendant at the scene of the crime."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LaskoVortex (1153471)

      Splash some body fluids here, drop some hair there, and smear some skin cells at a strategic location, and voila "we have DNA evidence that places the defendant at the scene of the crime."

      Congratulations on stumbling on the plot from GATTACA [imdb.com]. But your +n insightful is deserved because of the twist--although I've heard that prostitutes sell used condoms for this very reason. I can't find any links on the web to this effect so maybe its simply a urban legend. Hopefully defense attorneys with a modicum of intelligence will figure out that they can use planted DNA evidence as a defense.

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:03PM (#25893751) Journal

        Well, as someone who used to live a truck stop I can tell you that many hookers are junkies and will be happy to sell you ANYTHING for cash. So I doubt it would be real hard to wave a twenty in front of a hooker and get anything you wanted, especially something she wouldn't be able to normally sell like a used condom.

        Of course this gets even worse if you think about it. How many times have YOU left DNA that could be recovered by anyone in a public place? A coke can, those of us like me who smoke leaving our butts in a public ashtray, etc. And as DNA gets used more and more it will be in a criminals best interest to pick up something like that, if for no other reason that it adds to the chance that you could throw them off the trail. And with WAY too many jurors watching CSI all the will have to say is "DNA evidence" and you ass is toast.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nutria (679911)

        Congratulations on stumbling on the plot from GATTACA.

        There was also an episode of Law & Order where a vengeful woman hires a prostitute to get a condom full of semen in order to frame a man for murder.

      • by Bob The Cowboy (308954) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:46PM (#25895507)

        I've heard that prostitutes sell used condoms for this very reason. I can't find any links on the web to this effect so maybe its simply a urban legend.

        Dear God. I shudder to think of the context ads you'll be getting in the near future.

    • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:56PM (#25893663) Homepage Journal

      While performing the autopsy on Newlands' body, Warner finds a plastic tube of blood in his upper arm. He was the father of Morris' baby, but he wasn't the Honey Rapist. He put the tube with someone else's blood in his arm to beat the paternity test. Unfortunately for him, that someone else was a previously unidentified child rapist.

      http://www.tv.com/law-and-order-special-victims-unit/serendipity/episode/278851/recap.html?tag=overview;recap [tv.com]

      apparently, like much of law and order, based on a real life case of a canadian doctor in 1992 implanting a blood tube in his arm to beat a dna test (and also the basis for a movie):

      http://books.google.com/books?id=62uFtPQOegwC&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=law+and+order+implanted+blood&source=web&ots=tAMxawCqEz&sig=3jV_E2vL-Xe4UFhG7hH5wCkJQk8&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=8&ct=result [google.com]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Schneeberger [wikipedia.org]

      Rape case
      On the night of 31 October 1992, Schneeberger sedated his 23-year-old patient, Candice, and raped her. While Versed -- the anesthetic he used -- has strong amnesiac effect, Candice was still able to remember the rape. She reported the crime to the police.

      Schneeberger's blood sample was, however, found not to match the samples of the alleged rapist's semen, thus clearing him of suspicion. In 1993, at the victim's request, the test was repeated, but the result was negative, as well. In 1994, the case was closed.

      Candice, still convinced that her reminiscences were true, hired Larry O'Brien, a private detective, to investigate the case. He broke into Schneeberger's car and obtained another DNA sample, which, this time, matched the semen on victim's panties and pants. As a result, a third official test was organized. The obtained blood sample was, however, found to be too small and of too poor quality to be useful for analysis.

      In 1997, Lisa Schneeberger found out that her husband had repeatedly drugged and raped her 15-year-old daughter from her first marriage. She reported him to the police, which ordered a fourth DNA test. This time, multiple samples were taken: blood, mouth swab, and hair follicle. All three matched the rapist's semen.

      [edit] Conviction
      During his 1999 trial, Schneeberger revealed the method he used to foil the DNA tests. He implanted a 15 cm Penrose drain filled with another man's blood and anticoagulants in his arm. During tests, he tricked the laboratory technician to obtain blood sample from the place the tube was planted.

      He was found guilty of sexual assault, of administering a noxious substance, and of obstruction of justice, and received a six-year prison sentence.

      • by JSBiff (87824)

        Wow. . . planting a blood tube in your arm. . . that takes the idea to a whole new level. Nice reference there. Thanks for sharing that.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Isn't evidenced obtained via a crime (breaking into the car) inadmissable? How the Hell was he convicted?

        • by Lershac (240419)

          That evidence was probably never brought up at trial.

        • He was convicted based on that. As the person quoted:

          Candice, still convinced that her reminiscences were true, hired Larry O'Brien, a private detective, to investigate the case. He broke into Schneeberger's car and obtained another DNA sample, which, this time, matched the semen on victim's panties and pants. As a result, a third official test was organized. The obtained blood sample was, however, found to be too small and of too poor quality to be useful for analysis.

          So it wasn't useful for any analysis. On the other hand the reason he was convicted was because of this other portion the person's post:

          In 1997, Lisa Schneeberger found out that her husband had repeatedly drugged and raped her 15-year-old daughter from her first marriage. She reported him to the police, which ordered a fourth DNA test. This time, multiple samples were taken: blood, mouth swab, and hair follicle. All three matched the rapist's semen.

          Reading comprehension ftw!

        • The "illegally obtained evidence" laws generally pertain only to police. In some states, evidence obtained illegally by a private citizen might be perfectly admissible. Though I do not agree with that policy, nevertheless it is up to the individual states.

          The private investigator, while finding evidence that might convict, could find himself up for criminal charges regardless of whether the evidence he found were admissible. It is a pretty big risk. Private investigators are not allowed to break into car
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Splab (574204)

            Also it says Canada, so different rules might apply.

            Here in Denmark during some riots in the spring the police raided several apartments illegally, they where searching for some of the instigators - while raiding they came across different illegal things like drugs and weapons, while the searches where illegal, so was the items found and there is no getting out of jail free card for those implicated.

            • In the United States, even if the search is legal (based on a search warrant), if they find something illegal that is not mentioned in the warrant, they can't use it as evidence.

              The framers of the US Constitution included that provision (what is being searched for has to be specified) because they had direct experience of abuse by the occupying British authorities.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by againjj (1132651)

                Wrong. If, during the legal course of police activity, there is probable cause, the item may be seized by the plain view doctrine [wikipedia.org]. There are restrictions defining "the legal course of police activity", such as the officer may not be searching for anything other than what is in the warrant, the officer may not used enhanced observation, the illegality must be "immediately apparent", etc.

                The fourth amendment [wikipedia.org] disallowed general search warrants, which allowed searching without specifying a crime or the evi

      • by RDW (41497)

        I wonder if any of these shows have used this:

        http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-10/uol-dcr100608.php [eurekalert.org]

        as a plot device yet?

        'These results have a potential use in forensic science, since it suggests that, given large databases of names and Y chromosome profiles, surname prediction from DNA alone may be feasible.'

      • that's insane. i wonder how far in advance he knew about the blood test. seems like that type of operation would be a pretty invasive procedure if you're gonna make it look convincing. and it would take a while before the stitches could be removed and scarring went away.

        in any case, i don't think there's anything wrong with searching for similar DNA matches as long as law enforcement treat it as such. it's just like searching for a suspect based on a physical description. yes, you'll have to interrogate peo

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      That's why I always plant samples of my worst enemies hair, skin, and (ewww!) bodily fluids all around my house, so that when somebody tries to frame me, they will wind up framing my enemies instead! But seriously, if somebody that hates you that much has access to your DNA samples, you've already got some serious problems! My advice to you would be to stop screwing people that want to frame you for murder! While this might make a great episode of CSI:Geek Squad, I'm pretty sure most of the readers of slash
      • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:19PM (#25893887) Homepage Journal

        if somebody that hates you that much has access to your DNA samples, you've already got some serious problems!

        Never been divorced have you?

      • by Binty (1411197) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:22PM (#25893927)
        Remember that law enforcement agencies keep the raw blood/hair/whatever sample. So, suppose you've got a guy who has been in and out of prison a few times and now is being investigated for another crime. The authorities are pretty sure he did it, but don't quite have the evidence for a conviction. It would be pretty convenient just to splash some of that previously collected sample around and guarantee a conviction. I think that is the parent's concern here.
      • by mccabem (44513)

        ...I'm pretty sure most of the readers of slashdot (and most other people living in the real world) don't have to worry too much about...

        If you're implying we should wait until "most people" are affected by this before sitting up and taking notice, I'd say you're a good patriotic American.

        Now everyone return to shopping.

        -Matt

    • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:23PM (#25893933)
      now that everybody knows about DNA evidence, what's to stop someone from planting DNA evidence at a crime scene?
      .

      The same things that stopped you from planting the same sort of evidence before DNA testing:

      You have to collect the samples.

      You have to distribute the samples.

      In ways that are safe and plausible. Getting it right means spending more time at the crime scene. This is generally considered undesirable.

      Unless you are a nincompoop the frame has to fit someone you know very, very well - and who almost certainly knows you.

      It had better not be the poor schnook who was struck by the crosstown bus at 5:30 on the day when your murder was committed at 9 o'clock.

    • A single hair is easy to plant, granted, but exactly how easy is it to get your hands on body fluids or sufficient amounts of correctly identified skin cells? Anyone who would have sufficient access to your body fluids (a doctor or a lover) would also be sufficiently close to the case at hand to also be in the police's list of plausible suspects. It's not only about DNA either - finding your hair at a crime's location will not make you guilty if fifty people and surveillance cameras can positively locate yo
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:45PM (#25893513)

    But dress it all up as "social networking" and you'll have zillions of willing participants.

    • by jd (1658) <imipak @ y a h o o .com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:50PM (#25894175) Homepage Journal
      If myspace or facebook started asking for hair clippings from subscribers, the DNA database would choke.
    • If I had a mod point I would rate that as insightful, as in brilliant.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)

      What happens when 23andme.com makes a Facebook app that lets you find other people on Facebook to friend based on how close your genetic profiles match, or certain traits you share? It's more likely than you think, and I say this as someone who uses Facebook AND has had a genetic profile done through 23andme.com.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lysergic.acid (845423)

        because you want to date your cousin? or because you want to find people who are susceptible to the same diseases as you?

        genetic profiles don't seem very useful for social networking. they don't describe personality traits. at most you might be able to find people who share the same mental health issues as you (e.g. ADHD/ADD, bipolarism, schizophrenia, Asperger syndrome, etc.), but it wouldn't be much help in finding friends or potential dates.

        something like a personality profile generated by user surveys w

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by riceboy50 (631755)
          Your argument is based on the assumption that the only reason someone might use a social network is for dating reasons. I think it is likely that many would be interested in the idea of connecting to other family branches. Genealogy is already an interest and hobby of many.
          • no, it's not. it's based on the assumption that social networks are for social networking, that is, meeting new people. which could be for romance, for friendship, or for professional/business connections. but none of those objectives would be served by genetic profile matching.

            things like personality, interests/hobbies, tastes (in art/music/literature/film/etc.), occupation or professional interests, goals, etc. are all major factors in social networking whether you are looking for romance, friendship, or

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by sgbett (739519)

          Why let solid reasoning get in the way of the latest and greatest social networking gag!

          -1 Sad Truth :/

  • by mapsjanhere (1130359) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:48PM (#25893559)
    One of the core protections in the US legal system is that you cannot be made to testify against a close relative. That niche just got filled nicely by DNA cross matching.
    • What the hell are you talking about? First, spousal privilege only applies to married couples. Second, there is nothing to stop someone from voluntarily testifying out of moral duty (though, in some states I believe that a spouse cannot testify even if he/she wants to under certain circumstances).
    • One of the core protections in the US legal system is that you cannot be made to testify against a close relative.

      I am pretty sure that is not true.

      IANAL (and IORAL, but that's another subject) but my lay understanding is that a spouse can not be forced to testify because legally husband and wife are the same entity and thus it would be a violation of the 5th amendment, the right to refuse to be a witness against oneself.

    • by HexaByte (817350)
      One of the core protections in the US legal system is that you cannot be made to testify against a close relative.

      Wrong. We don't force one spouse to testify against another, although they are allowed to do so if they so desire.

      They can force you to testify against your Mother, Father, Brother Daughter, etc.

      IANAL, but I've spent a lot of time in court!

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly sure that only exists for spouses, not brothers, sisters, parents, etc.

    • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:52PM (#25894203)
      One of the core protections in the US legal system is that you cannot be made to testify against a close relative. That niche just got filled nicely by DNA cross matching.
      .

      You are thinking of the old notion that you can't be forced to testify against your spouse. "The two become one."

      But "to testify" means "to be cross-examined."

      It is about what you can be forced to say on the stand, not about what was discovered in a forensic examination of your hair, blood, fingerprints and so on.

      The privilege against self-incrimination is fundamentally a defense against the use of psychological manipulation, extortion, bribery and torture to extract a confession.

      • by happyslayer (750738) <david@isisltd.com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @10:06PM (#25894799)

        ...the usual disclaimers, IANAL, etc...

        Just to be specific, with some examples:

        Scenario #1: Mobster husband coming home from a hard day's "work"

        Hubby: Boy, Honey! That was a rough day! Do you have any idea how hard it is to chop up a guy with a Ginsu knife? We never thought Tony Da Rat would fit in that suitcase!

        The wife can't testify or be made to testify about Tony Da Rat's tragically funny disposal. Her husband related it to her (assuming no one else was around) as part of the marital confidential communication.

        Scenario #2: Wife greets Mobster Hubby after hard day's work

        Wife: Awww...honey. Looks like you had a rough day. Let me wash that bloody shirt. What do you want me to do with the head in the bowling bag?

        The wife canbe made to testify about the bloody shirt, the head in the bag, or anything else she directly sees, hears, touches, etc.

        The point is that it's not her privilege or choice...it's her husband's. He can refuse to let her testify about confidential communication--she can't just go forth and start spouting it off...not if it (or any subsequent evidence) is to be used in court.

    • <i>One of the core protections in the US legal system is that you cannot be made to testify against a close relative.</i>

      Fifth Amendment objections are besides the point here. There are serious objections to be made to this that are based on the Fourth Amendment. It's as if we were to tap the phones of everyone with a relative in jail. The people have a right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. I think that includes DNA.
  • routine in Britain (Score:4, Insightful)

    by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:50PM (#25893583)
    I dont know how the Brits let the authorities get aways with it. But relative search is routine in Scotland Yard. Also global DNA collections in local neighborhoods is routine. And keeping data forever is routine. The Brits just bend over and take it.
    • Not sure what the problem with near matches is.

      If the police cant get a direct match then they can still narrow it down significantly if a relative is in the database.

      Its a minor privacy problem at most.
      Chances are the near match person would be questioned anyway about the crime if there was a direct match.

      • 1) You are identified as a near match. All of your relatives are now suspects.
        2) Near match doesn't mean the perpetrator is a close relative of yours. Police waste their time on an extensive bad lead and fail to solve the crime.

        The problem with these tests is that they don't identify enough of the genome to operate in this fashion. They are really only suited for conclusively ruling out a suspect, not for identifying one. The odds of a false positive are much higher than is reported, and going up all of th

      • by Lershac (240419)

        Its only minor until the CIA or the NSA decides its in the interests of national security to force the appearance of a childs father by locating the child through that national DNA database and taking them into custody and threatening to do bad things.

      • Personal family experience: What do you do when you are the one escapee from three generations of Manson family? Every time one of your SOB brothers, sisters, cousins, or creepy Uncle Carl gets into trouble, you get rounded up with the usual suspects and grilled like a cheese sandwich from Mel's Diner!

        I've got a sister-in-law who's a great, clean, upstanding citizen. Unfortunately...her family has about 3 generations of DWT spread across 4 counties. Why should she have to recite her family tree and tes

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      Do you have any realistic suggestions on how to stop them? Not just on this, on everything. Voting, protesting and petitioning have failed on major issues. What options are there now?

      • Do you have any realistic suggestions on how to stop them? Not just on this, on everything. Voting, protesting and petitioning have failed on major issues. What options are there now?

        Nanomachines that rewrite your DNA just enough to through off the tests.

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Go to prison.
        I read somewhere that it will be an offence to not carry your new ID card at all times, and fineable to not update the authorities in a timely manner if you move house. So they can stop you at any time and have a ready excuse for the intrusion. Just say no and mean it. I hope enough people will resist so that prison becomes unfeasable. This techno equivalent of an ID tattoo must be resisted. I am not a slave, and I am not a piece of inventory. I will not be catalogued.

        How about you ?

        This is a
    • ... because I would SHOOT a cop who tried to force me to give a DNA sample just because somebody in my neighborhood committed a crime.

      Seriously. That is something that they had better not try where I live.
    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>I dont know how the Brits let the authorities get aways with it.

      I'd like to say it's because us Americans have protection against unreasonable search and seizures, but that protection got ripped out of the constitution a long time ago.

  • sauce (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eil (82413) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @07:54PM (#25893631) Homepage Journal

    I can understand how convicts, felons, suspects, and arrestees get their DNA thrown into a federal database, but how do they get the DNA of their family members if crime doesn't happen to run in the family? Where are all these DNA samples coming from?

    • Because daddy got convicted in a DUI 10 years ago, the computer can now match the son's DNA they recovered from a rape victim as being related to daddy. What greatly limits the number of people they have to examine, and also will give the police probably cause for obtaining DNA search warrants on all relatives.
    • Border Crossers
      School Teachers
      Bank Tellers
      Law Enforcement
      Foster Parents
      Armored Car staff
      Caregivers
      Military
      Medical Personnel

    • Re:sauce (Score:5, Informative)

      by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:41PM (#25894089)

      I can understand how convicts, felons, suspects, and arrestees get their DNA thrown into a federal database, but how do they get the DNA of their family members if crime doesn't happen to run in the family? Where are all these DNA samples coming from?

      • Sperm/Blood donors?
      • People crossing the border? (ok... currently just being photographed and fingerprinted afaik... but DNA is next...)
      • People subjected to drug tests?
      • People subjected to 'reference/elimination samples'? ... (ie you were attacked, and now we need your blood sample, so know which blood is the attackers and which is yours...)
      • Medical teststing? Bloodwork?
      • Screening tests for sensitive jobs (law enforcement, military, medicine, security...)
      • Parents volunteering their children's DNA for use if they are kidnapped, etc

      And remember, the moment this becomes legal, they will start begging/demanding/legislating that DNA from any source they can get their hands on be added to the database.

      • Screening tests for sensitive jobs (law enforcement, military, medicine, security...)

        And BestBuy, Costco, McDonalds, Starbucks, Wal-mart, Blockbuster, Del Taco, Denny's, Maxim, OfficeMax, Petsmart, Sunglass Hut, Bed Bath and Beyond...

      • How about the military DNA registry [slashdot.org]?

    • by jd (1658)

      Anyone treated in hospital is likely to fill out a form asking if their DNA can be used for medical research. Anyone who has used a genealogical DNA service (and there are many) or one of the genetic disease detection services (there are rather fewer of those, deCODEme being one of the better-known) has their DNA on file on the service's database. Now, whilst there is some protection from unscrupulous departments abusing these kinds of socially-provided services, "law enforcement" gets a LOT of leeway when

      • Anyone treated in hospital is likely to fill out a form asking if their DNA can be used for medical research.

        Really? Where? I've never seen such a clause at any hospital or clinic that I've worked at and it would seem to be in violation of most standards for 'informed consent'. Typically, you have to consent for a specific research protocol and be given the pros and cons of doing so. Exceptions exist for things like CPR registries (where it becomes difficult to get the unconscious patient to sign the i

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:03PM (#25893743) Homepage
    That didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would before law enforcement starts expanding use of their growing DNA data bank.
  • Seems like you run an interesting risk, doing this, of discovering fathers or are not the biological father of their children.

    • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:31PM (#25894017) Journal

      Exactly, and there are a few other problems that might pop up when matching familial DNA. There do not seem to be any privacy issues addressed here, nor any concern for the rights of citizens.

      If you look exactly like someone that just robbed a bank, you might get stopped walking down the same street. If you happen to have 99% of the same DNA as someone that just robbed a bank, there should not be much cause for searching your person or papers.

      This is only a blaspheme away from searching everyone's DNA to eliminate them from criminal prosecution. Everyone is guilty till proven innocent. On top of that, 'if you have nothing to hide, give us your DNA' is NOT the right solution. Warrants should not be issued on the idea of similar DNA alone.

      Would a man who is step father to 3 good boys, and unknowingly father to a son in another city of the same state have to endure the searching and police BS, as well as his entire family enduring it simply because his DNA was similar to the DNA found at a crime scene?

      This can be good for a marginal minute percentage of the crime fighting. The rest of the time it will be used for pure terrorism, the kind that only police states can generate.

  • This is why (Score:3, Funny)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:27PM (#25893973)
    you should encrypt your DNA using truecrypt.
  • tangent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:29PM (#25893993) Homepage Journal

    anyone remember that csi episode about the chimera?

    incredibly rare, but sometimes two fraternal twins will fuse while still blastocysts. so the dna of two seperate individuals form different organ lines in one individual. so your blood and kidneys and stomach might be from one person, while your brain, skin and lungs might be from another. most chimeras go through life never knowing what they are, but every once in awhile, a blood test reveals that, for example, a mother isn't even the mother of her own children (her womb is from a nonexistent twin):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydia_Fairchild [wikipedia.org]

    Lydia Fairchild was pregnant with her third child, when she and the father of her children, Jamie Townsend, separated. When Fairchild applied for welfare support in 2002, she was requested to provide DNA evidence that Townsend was the father of her children. While the results showed Townsend was certainly the father of the children, the DNA tests indicated that she was not their mother.

    This resulted in Fairchild being taken to court for fraud for claiming benefit for other people's children or taking part in a surrogacy scam. Hospital records of her prior births were disregarded. Prosecutors called for her two children to be taken into care. As time came for her to give birth to her third child, the judge ordered a witness be present at the birth. This witness was to ensure that blood samples were immediately taken from both the child and Fairchild. Two weeks later, DNA tests indicated that she was not the mother of that child either.

    A breakthrough came when a lawyer for the prosecution found an article[2] in the New England Journal of Medicine about a similar case that had happened in Boston, and realised that Fairchild's case might also be caused by chimerism. In 1998, 52-year old Boston teacher Karen Keegan was in need of a kidney transplant. When her three adult sons were tested for suitability as donors, it was discovered that two of them did not match her DNA to the extent that her biological children should. Later testing showed that Keegan was a chimera, a combination of two separate sets of cell lines with two separate sets of chromosomes, when a second set of DNA was found in other tissues[3] This DNA presumably came from a different embryo from the one that gave rise to the rest of her tissues.

    anyway, in csi, the aberation was used to good effect: the killer knew he would get away with the crimes because his dna from the crime scene would not match the dna from his lab tests. but of course, the dna would indicate the killer was a brother of the prime suspect, because half the dna would match his phantom brother (which puts a twist on the subject of this story: if relative dna banks enjoy common use, a lot more chimeras out there are going to come to light)

    most of the episode the csi investigators run after one brother of the suspect after another, in a fruitless red herring chase to find the dna of a brother who did not exist, except inside that of the killer

    http://www.csifiles.com/reviews/miami/bloodlines.shtml [csifiles.com]

    Todd has four living brothers, and one who died, named Joss. Sara questions fraternal twins Larry and Roger Coombs, who own a car repair shop together. Brass talks to one of the brothers who is a police officer, but the CSIs are unable to locate Kevin Coombs, another brother. ...

    Sara locates Kevin living on the edge of town in a trailer. He is called in for questioning, but the CSIs attention again alights on Todd. A strand of hair was found on Lindley's jacket, and the DNA is an exact match for Todd. When Grissom examines him, he notices some odd markings on his back.

    Grissom hits the books and reads up on fraternal twins and Chimeras. He brings Todd into the interrogation room: he's cracked the case. Todd is a Chimera. He should have had

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Interesting.... I know a woman who had two complete sets of interal reproductive organs. I'd speculated that this was the result of a partial twinning early in fetal development.

      She has two daughters. Occurs to me that if DNA tests were to show that the two have "different mothers" this would be evidence of a merged (chimera) blastocyte, whereas if they have the same mother, it could be evidence of a failed split equally early in mom's fetal development. (Not definitive for this, tho, since they might by ch

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:46PM (#25894145)

    Funny thing about matching possible Family Members.
    Depending on how good of DNA profile they took a Lab can match 99.9% Match. That means 1/1000 people of the same race could be the criminal real parent or sibling. If the DNA profile is very detailed the odds are 1/100,000 people of the same race. So theyâ(TM)re going to be a-lot of innocence people harass by the police.

    http://www.dna-geneticconnections.com/dna_accuracy.html

    • by B5_geek (638928)
      With 2008 census stating that the population of California is: 36,457,549
      http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html

      That means that you could be related to 36,457 or 36 people! (ignoring race for humour purposes)
  • Just a reminder... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ghostworks (991012) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @08:58PM (#25894261)

    Now California police also reserve the right to take DNA from anyone they arrest for any reason. Which means if they can ever make the process an order of magnitude cheaper and faster, they could assemble a very large database very quickly with just the laws already on the books.

  • Lazy lawmaking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @09:07PM (#25894315)
    It seems lazy lawmaking to me that CA would put some law on the books and just wait for problems to arise.

    One would have thought that with a week or two on ask slashdot, a whole bunch of the more obvious problems with this approach could have been forestalled. And with another few weeks of expert review even more simple constraints could have been devised.

    It seems to me inevitable that this approach to investigation will only get more prevalent, so I don't see any reason why CA could not have spent some time to try and get some of the details right in advance.

    How about introducing a law with some overly-strict limitations and then relax them over time instead of introducing an overly-loosely managed system and then going back to make it right after it's ruined a few peoples lives.

    It just seems like a piss poor attitude to lawmaking to me.
  • Why not store DNA records for everyone? It would help cops zero in on all kinds of criminals. The goal is to catch every criminal for every crime.
    People who felt DNA had been planted could still offer a defense. Also people trying to plant false DNA samples would be quite likely to leave their own DNA while doing the planting.
    It would be interesting to live in a society with zero lies and zero crimes. Keep in mind that popularity would not matter much at all as

  • IIRC, DNA matching is done based on 'junk' DNA. Assuming the particular markers used actually don't do anything, I'd be the first to sign up for an injection of a virus that will randomly change those markers around. Let them find me by my DNA when every cell has a different sequence.
  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday November 25, 2008 @11:23PM (#25895321)
    I'm from Kentucky and everyone's DNA matches!
    • by Sanat (702)

      That is similar to the population in West Virgina... 3 million people, 5 last names.

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        That is similar to the population in West Virgina... 3 million people, 5 last names.

        And whether it's a divorce or a tornado, *somebody's* gonna lose a mobile home!

        [rimshot]

        Thanks, I'll be here all week!

        Don't forget to tip your bartenders and waitresses!

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