FC: South Carolina secretly creates children's DNA database

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Thu Feb 21 2002 - 20:54:25 PST

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    [Ick. Another example of why government privacy invasions are so chilling. 
    From: "John Cieciel" <uselesseaterat_private>
    To: "dec" <declanat_private>
    Subject: State of mistrust
    Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 15:06:03 -0600
    J. Cieciel
        Published: February 21, 2002
        State of mistrust
        South Carolina agencies continue to violate citizens' privacy. This
        time the state is distributing our children's DNA. Lawmakers need to
        institute firmer rules on the collection and distribution of
        individuals' personal information.
        Once again South Carolina's state government has proven that it can't
        be trusted with the personal information it demands from its citizens.
        South Carolinians had hoped it was a fluke when the state sold the
        information on 3.5 million people's driver's licenses to a New
        Hampshire company without their permission or even notification.
        Citizens thought that the outrage from that incident surely would make
        state officials more responsible about how they handle the personal
        information citizens are forced to give the state.
        But last week South Carolinians learned that -- without their
        knowledge or permission -- the state had created a DNA library on our
        children. By law, babies are tested for specific genetic diseases
        after they are born. The state Department of Health and Environmental
        Control has been saving all of those samples since 1995 in a special
        deep freeze facility.
        State officials told us not to worry. These genetic blueprints of our
        children are safe with them. This information could not be misused.
        This week we learned that the information has already been misused.
        Without the permission of these DNA donors or their parents, the state
        has given some of the samples to a genetics laboratory and gave others
        to the State Law Enforcement Division to help start a DNA databank
        Are there any parents left who still trust the state with this
        information? It's not likely.
        Do South Carolinians want a genetics lab experimenting on their
        children's DNA? Did state officials ever think to ask? And what right
        does SLED have to include our innocent children's DNA in its databank?
        Legislative remedies for this problem have been discussed in Columbia.
        They range from the immediate destruction of the DNA samples held by
        DHEC to a system in which parents can instruct the state not to keep
        their children's samples. Clearly, the state must institute a process
        that -- at a bare minimum -- requires DHEC to get parental permission
        to keep the samples.
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