A proposed Arizona law could make the state the largest holder of compulsory DNA collections in the nation. The massive statewide database would start with the forcible collection of DNA from anyone who is fingerprinted to get a job.
If the legislation passes, many people — from parent school volunteers and teachers to real estate agents and foster parents — will be forced to comply.
“Under Senate Bill 1475, which Sen. David Livingston, R-Peoria, introduced, DNA must be collected from anyone who has to be fingerprinted by the state for a job, to volunteer in certain positions or for a myriad of other reasons.
“The bill would even authorize the medical examiner’s office in each county to take DNA from any bodies that come into their possession.”
Under the plan, the Department of Public Safety would “maintain the collected DNA alongside the person’s name, Social Security number, date of birth and last known address.”
“Any DNA in the database could be accessed and used by law enforcement in a criminal investigation. It could also be shared with other government agencies across the country for licensing, death registration, to identify a missing person or to determine someone’s real name.”
But, check this out, it could also be given to anyone conducting “legitimate research.”
What legitimate ‘research?’
No other state does this, according to David Kaye, an associate dean for research at Penn State University who studies genetics and its application in law.
“Kaye said the proposed bill is one step away from requiring DNA from anyone who wants a driver’s license.”
Currently, Arizona collects DNA from anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor sex crime.
However, “It doesn’t seem like solving crimes is a big priority here,” Kaye said. “It’s not focusing on the people most likely to be linked to crimes, it’s just spreading the net more broadly.”
Plus, he argued, there is a legal question on whether such a collection violates federal law.
A federal law known as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act bars employers from using DNA testing as a condition of employment.
“Liz Recchia, director of government affairs for the West Maricopa Association of Realtors, said the organization is against the bill.” She warned readers in a blog to “brace themselves” before looking at the bill.
“It isn’t very often a bill at the state Legislature affects so many Arizonan’s civil rights in such an onerous manner,” Recchia wrote.
Interestingly, among the dozens of organizations and individuals registering opposition to the bill the Arizona Police Association, the Arizona Mortgage Lenders Association, the Arizona Association of Realtors and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona.
What is going on in Arizona?