The topic of genomes is ubiquitous in the field of science. In fact, the very topic has been mentioned in the media so much that people may erroneously turn their head while believing that it is innocent posing no threat. In other words, that genetic data is a neutral commodity and only is used for our benefit. Convenient truth, right? The impression you have of genetics is a result of decades of careful massaging manipulation by the biotechnological companies (click here for Myriad in the U.S Supreme Court). But, ask yourself what do you really know. Genetics is vast expanding from pharmacogenomics, forensics, eugenics, genetic modified organisms, to geoengineering. This is a short list, rather; you should think more expansively and think of genetic information also a property. More specifically, genetic information is an extension of you, your identity and once revealed, it is extremely difficult to control: who possesses it, quantitative distribution and what is being done with it, to you now and future.
Your genetic material is unique in that it is the single element that ties all the other fabrics of identification methods and technologies into an entanglement of organized surveillance network. From medical diagnostics to global powerhouse surveilliance breakthrough, one individual or an entire government have the ability not only hack your medical history, your economic production, purchase history, credit history, and your families (and their families) but also know biological vulnerabilities of the inner parts of your cells, and be suspected of criminal offenses because knowing your DNA is linked upwith everything else for infinity – essentially, all but your thoughts (not to worry, they are working on that too). In addition, tie that information to social media such that your face is matched with your genetic information and thus the containment of your privacy is diminished. This poses an enormous potential to inflict on the people and societies in all the world, today and future generations. However, the development has been said in one way or another solely for your benefit. Genetic testing is promoted to allow people to have more control over their health, connect with their ancestral past, improve justice by proving an innocent person with a negative testing result while positively matching and proving the criminal. Ideally, this paternalistic government is said to create a safer, and securer life, however very few people would agree that the implementation of genetic testing and the growing use of surveillance technologies used on us has made us safer, in fact the dangers seem to be onlygrowing and here. The momentum is here, the genetic revelation is happening now, whether you like to admit it or not. As people enter the new realm of the genomes revelation we must ensure protection for ourselves for our families, our families families, our friends now and into the future. I believe we need to make a decision about the limitations technological will play in our lives, the extent of surveillance intrusion for the cost of safety while maintain democracy, human dignity, social justice and the preservation the fabric of this country. The amendments are diminishing with the raise of technology, and the defining key to our entire liberty, genetic material is being used to possibly refine slavery, demolition of freedom..
Would you freely disclose it like publishing what your favorite restaurant or holiday spot? Take an example of genetic information being closer to a fingerprint than simply an indication of susceptibility to cancer. For example, take it a bit further, like looking out in the horizon searching to find another inhibited planet in the near distance without any privacy. Privacy and rights are the engine of democracy built on freedom. Your genetic information can be used to interpret your health potential, your personality trait, your intelligence, and finding information in lieu of your keen. Because the enormous financial value that genetic information have particularly for powerful entities, such as biotechnological companies and politicians a federal law was created, that involved large insurance companies and members of the government, however this law is limited to insurance policy and employment. How is your DNA being used adversely in your life, in a population, in a nation? We need to be better engaged with how genetic information is being used in the rest of our lives and protect ourselves from becoming a Hollywood film where we are universally puppets being spi upon and controlled. Specifically, how is your genetic information used against you?
Algorithms being used to study behavioral patterns to create models of predication, design marketing campaigns, advertisements, commercials, stock manipulations, and consumer products by function demising privacy, privacy to the most mundane level. You may be familiar with hacking; your identity, your bank account number, your mail, your address book, airlines, your credit card, social security number, etcetera. Your genetic information is a trove of treasure also vulnerable to hacking. For example, consider all the information that is already being sold: your background report, your medical information, your credit report, municipal records, and then think about all the information that you willingly broadcast via social media. Let us not forget, the lengthy but equally as important internet cache, buying history and the like that is also a vital part of the pie. All this information may be trivial for you but companies exist solely to make revenue, billions in fact from it. You are told that your genetic information can not be traced back to the individual because it does not include personal information, this may be true as a single component, however, gathering the above resources to compile your identity is possible.
This false presentation of security is misleading because computer algorithms have accumulated suffice data in current times that they can decode your DNA sequence and your relatives, thereby revealing your identity. Recently, Grim Sleeper, a erial killer in Los Angeles has been charged with ten murders which occurred from 1985 to 2007. Since there was no existing DNA information on police files for the Grim Sleeper, but DNA from evidence the task force could not link the suspect. However, forensics was used to locate his son, which traced back to the Grim Sleeper. “An officer posing as a busboy at a pizza parlor got DNA samples from dishes and utensils Franklin had been eating with at a birthday party,” and with a DNA match was then arrested (2015). This example depicts a situation when spying, intrusion and breech of privacy leads to perhaps justice, but remember back when citizens were berated the government when it was revealed that our phones were tapped. The problem has since become grossly epidemic. How else is our DNA information used against us. How does this put our rights in jeopardy. Consider that warfare does not necessitate soldiers in the battle field. With population genetics coupled with algorithms, it is known what chemicals may be harm them, thus this information could be replace artillery, populations and individuals alike
The advent of the genetics revolution has initiated a debate regarding the security of privacy, civil rights, protection and regulations of your DNA material, despite being masked behind the shroud of distracting media. The dizzying effects of celebrity news, tsunamis, the latest electronic gadgets and sport scandals have concealed the growing mushroom cloud long enough that even the sky needs to flex in order to contain it. “Over the last three decades, the FBI has been developing itsCODIS program to assist federal, state, local, and international forensic laboratories in databasing their DNA records for law enforcement investigative purposes. (2015, June). The FBI along with law enforcement at every stratosphere has taken advantage of the properties of genetic material to implement the law. Not surprisingly, civil rights organisations like theElectronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Rights Union of Northern California (ACLU) are concerned with the magnitude of implications, power over the people and the erosion of the founding principles of our nation, thus are objecting the common, expanding encroaching practices that they believe has and are violating civil liberties. Is it really a mushroom cloud? Do you like big brothers hanging out your on doorstep, watching for you, or are they watching you?
The Issue: Are we criminals until proven innocent?
Take for example, the force of collection of your DNA without a warrant, collecting without consent as in the Michael Ursy’s case and even mining private companies such as 23andMe and Ancestary.com to perform familial searching. It may not be a surprise to you that we are being surveillanced, as it was leaked, phone tabbing during the Bush administration. Either is it stranger to our history, old classics film was fueled by espionage and spy agents. Who has not heard of Mission Impossible or James Bond? So, for the last thirty years the surveillance system has grown, but it is not until the last ten years or so that the revolution of genetics in conjunction with technology that has stripped societies to a pile of bare bones. The FBI and local police do not deny its capabilities but only to infer their practices as heroic, and crime stopping but civil organizations see a much more bigger picture as misuse and misconduct of such practices has surfaced in the news.
FBI and the government claims to use genetic material and technology to solve crime
Not long ago, the FBI was rarely heard of in civil level cases, but as of late the FBI and local law enforcement are teaming up merging their forces, much like American airlines and United Airways. They can be easily found in the city as they are in black suits in unmarked cars. Unanimously, they blame much of the unsolved cases and the rate of crime on the lack of a system like CODIS, an identification tool that was initially thought to benefit the investigation of sexual assault cases has proven to have wider application in the investigation and prosecution of crimes. “States have observed this firsthand with their CODIS hits and sought to expand coverage of their databases beyond convicted sexual offenders—first to more serious violent felony offenders, then all felony offenders, and now to persons arrested for sexual offenses and, in many states, persons arrested for any felony offense” (2015, June). It works with Rapid DNA(Rapid DNA Analysis, the device is a hands free instrument that enables law enforcement to process a “swab” of DNA and create a profile within a few hours, automated extraction, amplification, separation, detection and allele calling without human intervention. Furthermore, the program is collaborated with the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Institute of Justice, and other federal agencies to ensure the coordinated development of this new technology among federal agencies. The FBI and law enforcement has a growing database from prior convictions, current but not convicted arrests, convicted arrests, and private databases.(For global database, click here.)
EEF and ACLU say it is a violation to the Fourth Amendment to privacy.
Civil organisations such as EEF, a non profit defender of civil liberties contends and that the federal law that mandates DNA collection as a condition for bail for people who have been arrested for felonies. Additional, in the Raynor vs Maryland State case, Glenn Raynor’s genetic material was collected and tested without his knowledge or consent after he agreed to an interview at a police station as part of a criminal investigation. The police didn’t have probable cause to arrest Raynor, and he refused to provide a DNA sample. After he left the station, police swabbed the armrest of the chair where he had been sitting to collect his skin cells without his knowledge. The police then extracted a DNA profile from the cells and used it to connect him to the crime. Additionally, the use of Rapid DNA can be used by non scientist persons, void of a credited laboratory. In the case of Michael Ursy, a filmmaker was falsely arrested via familial searching. His father had donated his DNA to a project sponsored by a mormon church, who has since been acquired by Ancestry.com. The police force said that Ursy “fit the mold of a plausible suspect (2015, March),” ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has filed a lawsuit against the federal law that mandates DNA collection and asked the courts to stop collecting, analyzing, databanking DNA material from persons arrested but not convicted from a crime.
Science and biotechnology are tightly woven. Much like computers and then mobiles, with each revelation of technologies effecting our lives with greater impact, it becomes more difficult to imagine life sans it. The revolution of genetics is similar in that like other successful technologies sweeps the world by waves of a tsunami. Yet, it is different than its predecessors, such as gene therapy and stem cell research in the very way that DNA material by function is a vital link and preludes to other networks and other technologies, notably identity. This instrumental key coupled with existing security systems, fingerprinting, face recognition, social media, data mining, familial searching and iris scans has made it this the ultimate tool for global surveillance, effectively making it both appealing and ripe for countries with a broad range of budget. Thus, the implementation surveillance systems such as CODIS, Rapid DNA Analysis, and ALPR (automatic license plate recognition) has been soaring.
Near and far
The ease of processing traces of human elements for forensic DNA databases is without surprise. However, what is alarming is the practice of forensic DNA databases by law enforcement expanding well beyond our borders. Sixty different countries,small and large are forging ahead with collecting DNA from people of investigation and innocent people, aiming at population surveillance. “Over the last eleven years, Life Technologies has advised over 50 foreign governments and states on forensic DNA legislation, policy and law and regularly makes promotional presentations to foreign countries. Additionally, the level at which collaboration between countries is also a cause of great concern. For example, Prum DNA treaty was signed within the Europe Union, and Attorney Mitchell Morrissey of Denver is a renown expert on forensic DNA who regularly consults foreign governments. Many examples of abuse of power resulting in: dragnets, DNA mining, wrongful arrests, surreptitious testing without a warrant. violation of the fourth amendment, errors in DNA processing, degradation of DNA material, contamination, tampering, and non scientists misusing sensitive equipment are more prevalent than disclosed.
Ultimately, we are being targeted and treated as suspects, by our government and local law enforcement and as they accumulate their power, the common people are placed on one side of the fence and politicians, big corporations are on the other where corruptions and criminals converge. In addition, we are growing more desperate to hold onto the health we have, not knowing where else to turn to until the next “technological breakthrough.” Our health is ever increasingly challenging to grasp while still conclusively difficult to restore and our amendments are eroding ever faster.
As much as you may want, problems simply do not disappear, in fact, they grow all the while you are neglecting it, the life inside it continues to breath. If you are not yet dead, like me, then you should care about the future, because the future is both near and far and will be here before you can complain about it. We need to collectively unite and take time to care and express our concerns, desires, and thoughts for our future and our families to the our local officials, senators, mayors, governments, president. If not today, or tomorrow, then perhaps the one day that is dedicated for voting. You can also keep informed by visiting non profit organizations that are already working for the voice of the people at Council for Responsible Genetics,http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/pageD… , Genetics and Societyhttp://www.geneticsandsociety.org/article.php?id=6… , Genewatchhttp://www.genewatch.org/ and Electronic Frontier Foundation athttps://www.eff.org/.
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