Kentucky Privacy Advocates Concerned About Supreme Court’s DNA Ruling

The ACLU of Kentucky says the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling allowing for the collection of DNA without a warrant poses privacy concerns.

On Monday, the Court upheld a Maryland law allowing law enforcement to take and keep DNA samples from people who’ve been arrested—with or without a warrant.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy compared DNA-gathering to photographing and fingerprinting—well within the realm of a “legitimate police booking procedure.” But that comparison over-simplifies how DNA can be used, argues the ACLU of Kentucky. 

“In a lot of these cases people have tried to say that DNA is the same as a fingerprint, but it reveals a lot more information about the person,” says Amber Duke, a spokeswoman for the ACLU of Kentucky.

She argues that DNA also reveals more information than many people may realize.

“So, let’s say that I was being arrested for a crime and the collected my DNA,” Duke says. “They may also be able to get information about my daughter or other relatives through my DNA information.”

 

Duke argues that the DNA samples could also lead police to relatives of people who’ve been arrested.

 

Earlier this year, Kentucky state legislators considered bills that would have allowed police to gather DNA from people charged with committing a felony. The measures failed to pass through the General Assembly.

 

Advocates for DNA gathering argued this spring that the information could help authorities better prosecute criminals.

 

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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