“Police used DNA info on genealogy website to track down Golden State Killer suspect” (CNN, 4/28/18). At first glance, a triumph for law enforcement. Not so fast. The method used to identify the suspect—DNA matching — raises troubling questions about a law enforcement agency getting way over its skis. It was not the suspect’s DNA that provided the clue to his identity but that of a relative. The DNA was culled from a genealogy database that didn’t (because it didn’t have to) inform the relative that his (or her) DNA might wind up as part of a law enforcement operation and then on a government database permanently.
How could this have happened? Simple. As SA warned readers six months ago in “Hijacking Your DNA: It Could Cost You Your Freedom,” succumbing to the industry’s advertising campaign to “find out where you came from” by sending them a sample of your DNA has all sorts of hidden hazards. Not only are the genealogy companies richly rewarded for hijacking your DNA (fees range from $80-$100), once you’ve capitulated they get to keep your DNA on their database. Not what you thought you signed up for, is it? But in a world where surveillance is becoming a real cash cow, the genealogy companies are counting on other profit-making opportunities connected to your DNA to come their way. In the meantime, you can’t say you weren’t warned —the consent form you are required to sign (but not required to read) informs you that your DNA will wind up in the hands of any government agency that comes calling with a warrant or court order. Some companies will hand it over without the formalities.
If you took SA’s advice six months ago and refrained from believing the industry hype, congratulations, you can breathe a sigh of relief. For those of you on the fence don’t proceed until you read “Hijacking your DNA: It Could Cost You Your Freedom.
How loud and how often have we reviled countries where government surveillance limits peoples’ right to criticize their government, spies on those it considers “dangerous,” and rewards apathy and non-involvement? The worm has turned in a big way —welcome to the U.S. surveillance state where claims of national security have permeated the wall that always stood between your personal stuff and the government’s right to steal it. As SA (and other alternative media) have warned ad nauseam surrendering what makes you tick to a for-profit capitalist enterprise (whose links to government security agencies are unknown but likely) is like crossing a superhighway on foot. You never know which speeding car will take you out.
Even the corporate media have put their oar in these troubled waters. But don’t expect the truth. For example, CNN interviewed the CEO of one genealogy firm and failed to challenge her assertion that her company would never allow access to your DNA. Bah humbug! The truth is it depends on who does the asking. The entity that can troll through your DNA, capture and hold onto it permanently is the one most of us would least like to: our own government. The dodge that covers this illegal surveillance comes in the form of a court order or warrant that in the empire’s “anything goes” judicial system is as easy to obtain as roast beef on rye from your local deli.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” —more true today than ever. The link between vigilance and liberty is the most potent weapon the people have in their fight to salvage their privacy and limit government surveillance. The U.S. is chock full of powerful adversaries —permissive judges dismissive of personal privacy, a surveillance state apparatus determined to vacuum up the personal data of every person in the world, a corporate meme meant to mislead: “If you don’t have anything to hide, you shouldn’t be worried,” a wired public that has lost its reverence for personal space, and a bunch of corporate shysters beguiling you with promises to unlock your heritage —determined to stamp “property of the U.S.A.” on your DNA.
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