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California Court Rules Arrestees' DNA Collection Unconstitutional

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Is this "no more a violation of privacy" than giving up finger prints?

(Genetics and Society)

Earlier this month, the California 1st District Court of Appeal overturned the voter-approved "DNA Act," which required  DNA collection from all adults arrested on a felony charge within the state.

As Wired reports, the court ruled Proposition 69, which passed in 2004, was unconstitutional because "what [it] authorizes is the warrentless and suspicionless search of individuals, before a judicial determination of probably cause to believe they have committed a crime."

The proposition, commonly called the DNA Act, required DNA to be collected "immediately following arrest during the booking . . . process or as soon as administratively practicable after arrest." Since implementation in 2009, more than 1.6 million DNA samples had been collected.

Wired went on to report:

The California appeals court distanced itself from other rulings on the issue, holding that DNA collection from arrestees’ inner cheeks is not the same as taking fingerprints. About half of those arrested in California are convicted.

“The question this case presents, which is increasingly presented to the courts of this state and nation, is the extent to which technology can be permitted to diminish the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment,” the court wrote.

The San Fransisco Chronicle has more:

The federal government and about half the states have laws allowing DNA collection from some or all arrestees. Supporters say the measures are minimally intrusive and a powerful police resource in unsolved "cold cases."

Responding to a federal court challenge to the California law [in 2010], then-Attorney General Jerry Brown called DNA evidence "the fingerprint of the 21st century" and declared, "This is no more a violation of privacy than you have when you give up your fingerprints."

California Attorney General Kamala Harris declined to comment on if it would appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court , according to Wired.

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