Friday, June 7, 2013

The Government Just Stormed Your Castle

It is often said, that a man's, and I assume women's, home is their castle. It is their inviolate possession. Unbreachable and safe. Short of the intervention of the courts, even the government has no right of entry.

If that is true, and it should be, how much more inviolate is a persons body. Again, short of the intervention of the court, a persons body is unassailable without that person's consent. That is until now. I am not a Constitutional scholar. I have never even played one on TV. But I have read the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. That is the part of the Bill of Rights  that protects us all against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court has just thrown the Fourth Amendment into the trash heap.

I cannot imagine what the justices were thinking.  In a five to four decision they allowed police to administer a DNA test to any suspect for any crime. We are not talking about those that are convicted of a crime. You only need to be a suspect. It doesn't even have to be a felony. I can be a misdemeanor. The results of these tests will go into a federal DNA database. Even if you are not guilty of any crime your DNA stays in the database. It was the opinion of the court that this is no different than finger printing or taking a mugshot. 

But wait, in a mugshot it is a simple photograph. There is no physical contact. And mugshots of suspects do not go into a national database. Even a fingerprint is just an image, not a portion of ones body tissue. While a DNA test is minimally intrusive, it is intrusive. They stick a cotton swab in your mouth and swab your cheek. Not so bad. Quick, clean, and non-painful. But the issue is that they intrude into your body without your consent or evidential examination by a judge. It is a search without a warrant.

Then there is the part about the database. Where in the Constitution does the government get the right to hang the intimate information of your physical makeup out there for the world to access. Certainly, such a database would be useful in many circumstances. Solving some crimes would be almost automatic. Identifying unknown bodies would be simple. Proving relationships would be a snap.

But there is also a very dark side. Consider this. Any skilled hacker or anyone with connections into law enforcement, anyone that had access to some low level governmental clerical employee would be able to beg, borrow, or buy access to that database. Everyone in witness protection programs would be in danger. People working undercover would be jeopardized. 

Think about this. An abusive husband beats his wife. She fights back. The police are called and both are hauled in to jail as "mutual combat". Now her DNA is out there. If she should try to leave her abusive husband and hide to protect her life, her DNA trail will always be there. 

Just stack this up to the never ending list of bad decisions by government entities. Their power increases daily at the expense of ours. 

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