With the introduction of a new bill by a seeming protector of citizens’ DNA, privacy advocates and civil libertarians in California have a unique opportunity to reignite the data collection debate.
Earlier this year, Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto introducedAssembly Bill 170, which would limit California’s ability to retain DNA samples taken from residents at birth. Since California is one of the seven states that retain DNA and blood samples from newborns–a procedure that is carried out without parental consent–the bill was welcomed by many defenders of personal privacy. While the bill has been amended and re-referred to the Health committee, Gatto is now working to legislatively overhaul a DNA collection law that previously ruled the intrusion to be unconstitutional.
Gatto’s new bill, AB 1492, aims to invalidate parts of a 2014 court decision, People v. Buza, which overturned Proposition 69, a 2004 law that required every person arrested on felony suspicions in California to provide DNA samples to the state and federal governments. The 2004 initiative was controversial because it granted the government authority to collect DNA samples from arrestees who hadn’t been charged or convicted of any crime.
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