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Department of Homeland Security Looking To Use Portalbe DNA Scanners

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 12:17 PM
Friday, July 27, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security, is studding the possible use of a scanner that could map out DNA in less than an hour.  The device is portable and about the size of a desktop printer and is being built by Network Biosystems (or NetBio). The idea is to use the scanner on asylum seekers and refugees.  Current technology enables determinations of relationships between parents and children or among siblings, but it does not effectively prove distant relationships.

The device has explosive potential for misuse. John Verdi, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, stated that, “there are a lot of legal and constitutional hurdles that would have to be overcome for it to be lawfully used.” Not to mention the publics perception based on the reaction to the advanced X-ray devices deployed by the Transportation Security Administration last year.

As a matter of fact, the TSA made a preemptive statement after word of the device emerged. Curtis Burns stated on the company’s blog that the scanner is for use by a TSA sister agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which plans to use it to test for family relationships for foreigners applying for asylum or refugee status. In a direct statement Burns wrote, “TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA.”

DHS spokesman Chris Ortman said, ”the DHS Science and Technology Directorate expects to receive a prototype DNA analyzer device this summer to conduct a preliminary evaluation of whether this kind of technology could be considered for future use.” He went on to state that, ”at this time, there are no DHS customers, nor is there a timeline for deployment, for this kind of technology this is simply a preliminary test of how the technology performs.”

DHS would be required to meet the federal requirements for the protection of personally identifiable information stipulated by the Privacy Act of 1974.  According to Verdi, ”those requirements and obligations have to be observed. The department would be well advised to vet this technology through its privacy committees and its internal privacy apparatus. In addition, there needs to be independent oversight of a program like this. There needs to be oversight by lawmakers and oversight by citizens who are experts in these areas of technology, health records, and security to ensure the agency is not collecting data, retaining data, or sharing data contrary to law and regulation.”

Read more:
Computer World
Fox News

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