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Does the FBI have your DNA?

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2023 | Blog, Criminal Law

You might be wondering how extensive the FBI’s DNA collection has become.

Recent data reveals that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database is growing at an unprecedented rate. This increase raises important questions about privacy and the potential implications of such a vast collection of sensitive information.

The rise in DNA collection

The FBI’s DNA database now holds a staggering 21.7 million profiles, which means it encompasses roughly 7% of the entire U.S. population. With an ambitious plan to increase its budget for this DNA catalog, the Bureau intends to process even more samples. The primary reason for this budget boost is to manage the flood of samples the U.S. Department of Homeland Security collects.

Although the FBI originally intended its DNA database for samples from violent or sexual offenders, its scope has since broadened. The Bureau now collects around 90,000 samples a month. This rate is over ten times what it used to be, and experts believe it might surge to about 120,000 samples per month, adding up to 1.5 million new samples each year.

Implications of the expansion

You might feel uneasy about the rapid growth of the FBI’s DNA database, and understandably so. After all, your DNA reveals intimate details about you. It can show potential health conditions, family ties and ancestral lineage.

Starting in the early 1990s, the FBI built its DNA database with a specific purpose, but its use has evolved over time. In 28 states, police now have the authority to collect DNA samples from individuals they arrest for felonies, regardless of conviction status.

Moreover, DNA technology is advancing rapidly. Take environmental DNA, for instance. It offers a method to collect DNA from ambient sources such as wastewater or air. Think about the implications: just breathing might leave genetic evidence that someone could trace back to you.

As the number of samples in the FBI’s DNA database grows, it is important to stay informed about the potential implications for your privacy. Your DNA contains priceless personal data. With millions of samples already on file and many more to come, how will authorities use this genetic goldmine in the future? And, more importantly, how will it affect your rights and privacy in the years ahead?