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Feds Plan to Collect DNA Samples From Everyone They Arrest
WASHINGTON — The government plans to begin collecting DNA samples from anyone arrested by a federal law enforcement agency — a move intended to prevent violent crime but which also is raising concerns about the privacy of innocent people.
Using authority granted by Congress, the government also plans to collect DNA samples from foreigners who are detained, whether they have been charged or not. The DNA would be collected through a cheek swab, Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said Wednesday. That would be a departure from current practice, which limits DNA collection to convicted felons.
Expanding the DNA database, known as CODIS, raises civil liberties questions about the potential for misuse of such personal information, such as family ties and genetic conditions.
Ablin said the DNA collection would be subject to the same privacy laws applied to current DNA sampling. That means none of it would be used for identifying genetic traits, diseases or disorders.
Congress gave the Justice Department the authority to expand DNA collection in two different laws passed in 2005 and 2006.