The FBI’s additional $53 million funding request for the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) has heightened privacy concerns, following the Trump administration’s extensive DNA collection from migrants. This surge, criticized as a strategy to boost government surveillance, has seen a tenfold increase in CODIS profiles, with further growth anticipated. Despite potential misuse of sensitive personal information, the Biden administration continues the practice, raising alarms about civil liberties and mass biometric surveillance, particularly impacting vulnerable communities.
The FBI’s request for an additional $53 million to fund the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) has intensified concerns about genetic privacy. This follows the Trump administration’s expansion of DNA collection from migrants, contributing to a significant surge in the database. The ACLU warns that this massive expansion edges closer to a universal DNA database, raising questions about surveillance and civil liberties, especially as the technology becomes more accessible and efficient.
The influx of migrant DNA samples has resulted in a tenfold increase in profiles uploaded to CODIS, totaling over 22 million. The FBI anticipates further growth, predicting up to 1.4 million new samples annually due to policy changes. This expansion stems from the broader DNA collection policies enacted by the Trump administration, targeting migrants, including asylum seekers and minors, most of whom lack serious criminal records. The primary purpose of CODIS is to aid law enforcement in solving crimes.
Critics argue that the expansion of DNA collection is a strategy to enhance government surveillance powers, with no clear connection between the collected samples and criminal offenses. The Trump administration justified this by categorizing most people in immigration custody as potential criminals, a stance that has raised concerns about the conflation of migrants with crime. The DOJ did not clarify the necessity of collecting DNA from asylum applicants, who are legally entitled to seek protection.
Despite the potential for misuse, the Biden administration has not rolled back the expansion of CODIS. DNA contains sensitive and personal information, revealing aspects about an individual and their family, such as medical conditions and familial connections. The continuation of this extensive DNA collection practice underscores the growing concerns about privacy, civil liberties, and the potential for mass biometric surveillance, especially for vulnerable communities.
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