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Walk-By DNA Testing

Patents | Posted by Hemos on Monday July 10, @08:20AM
from the scary-stuff dept.
Scott_Marks writes "The New York Times today has an article on a newly-patented device which may make it practical to perform DNA testing (or drug testing, or explosives testing) on anyone walking underneath. This "portal" sucks up some of the millions of skin flakes each of us sheds each day and whips them into your choice of privacy-invading analysis equipment "for detecting the presence of molecules of interest"."

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(Score:4, Insightful)
by deefer (deefer@[Spam:_Just_Say_No] on Monday July 10, @08:42AM EDT
(User Info)

Another scary innovation.
As with all scientific advances, this throws up a whole load of interesting situations...
Depending on how sensitive and correct this device is, I can see some being installed in London, UK. Mention "terrorist" in England and you get some pretty draconian legal powers (such as extended questioning periods etc) to use and abuse.
So these are set up at airports... "To trap the terrorists"
Then set up at train stations... "To trap the terrorists"
Then set up at tube stations... "To trap the terrorists"
Before you know it, the terrorist threat has disappeared. Do they remove these machines? Hell, no lets have them sniff for drugs/homosexuality/Linux!
Think I'm paranoid? Then on my way to work, how come I drive through 3 manned police CCTV cameras left over from the "anti terrorist" Ring of Steel?

Strong data typing is for those with weak minds.
Join the revolution! Online Nation [ Reply to This | Parent ]

Guilty before proven innocent?

(Score:3, Insightful)
by KlomDark on Monday July 10, @08:47AM EDT
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This is the kind of stuff that should be illegal. Randomly sampling people as they walk by is no better than randomly searching peoples houses.

This is precisely what is described by "Illegal search" (and maybe even seizure, as they are effectively taking pieces of you as you walk by). In a perfect world, I doubt this would stand up in court, as the "due process" required has to be done on an individual basis, not on a broad scope of mostly innocent people.

What kind of people use their engineering talent to make such things? I would refuse. People do not see the long term cyclical nature of government. Everyone should take an Ancient Western Civilization class. Watch how the ancient civilizations grew, became strong, then became oppresive, then were overthrown for the greater good of humanity. This stuff will only prolong the suffering of humanity when the current civilization's time has come, making it difficult for the cycle to advance to the next level. Instead we end up in a totalitarian, invasive sitiuation.

Don't forget the children who have to live in this world we create...

[RAID on the Forest of Horrors] - Legend of the Web Dragon [ Reply to This | Parent ]

Easy solution - ban DNA cross referencing

(Score:5, Interesting)
by xtal ( on Monday July 10, @09:02AM EDT
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You americans have an opportunity to make a real stand here, and it will solve the problem of people spying on your DNA - simply BAN the cross referencing of a DNA database with public info, like for instance, your social security number. If your DNA cannot be used to identify you, this won't be a problem from the standpoint of raw information collection for marketting purposes (although might be valid statistically, for instance, all the caffiene molecules being secreted through the pores of coders in the development building.. heh heh)

As for explosives testing.. the american people need to vote on what they want more: Freedom or safety. You can be perfectly safe, more or less, but you'll be living in a police state. But, this is something the country will decide, personally, I'd rather live in a rural setting where the man doesn't have as many rights to get on my land.

The drug issue is worse though, and it's why I'll never move to the US. What if I toss a couple grams of an illicit substance in your car and then call the cops? What if I sprinkle you with coke in an elevator? The shit will hit the fan, and with the way the US drug laws work currently, your life is over and you very well might lose your car, if I phrase my "anonymous tip" correctly.

Something to think about..

...don't panic [ Reply to This | Parent ]

well that's it

(Score:3, Funny)
by happystink (:D) on Monday July 10, @10:05AM EDT
(User Info)

Time to get rid of my skin again!
[ Reply to This | Parent ]

Something you can do (in U.S.) to protect liberty

(Score:3, Insightful)
by Pfhreakaz0id ( on Monday July 10, @10:36AM EDT
(User Info)

Not that these are actually in use yet, but I can see it someday if we keep going down this path. It seems like we in the U.S. keep giving up more and more of our personal liberties to have a sense of "safety." Americans are whipped into frenzy by the focus of local TV news on sensationalistic crime reporting. Americans believe they are under seige from gun-toting, crack-smoking gangbangers.

There is a real, everyday, easy to do, practical thing you can do: Remind everyone you know that violent crime is at a twenty-year low in this country. Most of you have probably heard this, but you'd be surprised at how often it shocks people you meet. Here's a article to link to. (I'm sure there are better ones, but I can't find 'em right now. Or point 'em to the FBI's Universal Crime Reports. Really. Do it.
"There's a short list of people whose opinions of me I give a rat's ass about, and guess what? You're not on it!" [ Reply to This | Parent ]

It's not the DNA you need to worry about

(Score:3, Insightful)
by rgmoore ( on Monday July 10, @11:22AM EDT
(User Info)

Honestly, scanning your identity this way is about the last thing you should be worried about. The main goal of testers like these is to be able to scan people rapidly, like the metal detectors at airports. They want to be able to tell if someone is trying to smuggle bombs or drugs onto an airplane. That means that you need to know the answer from your test now, not in an hour or two when the guy's already had a chance to pass his stuff to some third party.

At the present, and for the forseeable future, it's just not possible to make a DNA-based individual ID in anything like real time. Even in the lab with nearly ideal samples doing that kind of thing takes time, and a lot of that is not something that can be easily reduced; certain chemical and physical reactions take time and can't be sped up. That puts a pretty strong damper on using this as a DNA vacum to violate people's rights.

OTOH, you can bet that the war against drugs and the war against terrorism will be used as excuses. Pretty soon you won't be able to get on a plane without being subjected to a battery of tests to make sure that you're not trying to put anything illegal onto the plane. Oops, you're a mining engineer who uses explosives at work? Prepare to be hassled every time you try to fly. Your pot smoking brother came over to visit? Prepare to be stopped and have your luggage examined. In the long term those kinds of minor erosions of personal protection are a much more dangerous threat to privacy than some hypothetical DNA screening.

What if there were no hypothetical questions? [ Reply to This | Parent ]

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