Why a DNA database is a very bad idea

Imagine this scenario: A murder case that went cold 20 years ago is reopened thanks to newly available DNA-based forensics. The state, lets say Arizona, has a large database of DNA. This isn’t the DNA deposited from newborns that David discussed a few weeks ago, but DNA from convicted criminals and really anyone who’s been brought up on charges in the last few years, whether or not they were eventually found innocent. DNA from a piece of evidence in that 20-tear-old case matches DNA in the database, the suspect is brought in a questioned. He has no alibi for what he was doing on day X 20 years ago. Charges are filed, a jury is called, and the suspect is convicted on the strength of a DNA match. Justice is served, right? Maybe, but maybe not.

So here’s the funny bit. The problem with this scenario has nothing to do with genetics, forensic science, or data storage and access. It’s really not even about crime and justice. It’s about your birthday.

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