The Double Helix Possesses All: Privacy Issues In The Us

2358 words - 9 pages

In 1984, George Orwell describes a society that shares eerily similar qualities with the modern world. Oppressed by Big Brother and the Party, citizens of Oceania live their lives without knowing freedom or privacy and being controlled completely by the Party. The Party’s control over the people is similar to the invasive procedure of modern DNA collection. In America, DNA can be taken unwarranted, without permission from crime scenes, where it is used to identify a person by “ethnicity or sex” and “predict hair and eye color, height, age” along with other personal conditions (Murphy). The unlimited collection of genetic evidence causes dehumanizing effects on the American population just as the loss of privacy affects the fictional population of Oceania.
Orwell correctly predicted that privacy would somehow be lost in the future. In Oceania, “the Party owns everything” and “controls everything and disposes of the products as it sees fit” (Orwell 206). Similarly, the US government has control of the national DNA databases, which contain DNA from both convicted felons and innocent people. Although some states choose to expurgate the unneeded DNA, others “allow the government to retain the [DNA] sample indefinitely” (Murphy). Keeping the DNA samples invade the innocent people’s privacy, for the government has ways to identify the biological identity of random humans. There are conflicting issues on whether genetic privacy violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution because, although the Fourth Amendment allows unwarranted searching in exigent circumstances, innocent bystanders sometimes also have their DNA taken for an extra security measure. The unneeded DNA, depending on the state, is most likely in the national database as well. Many people argue that the unneeded DNA would never be revealed, but despite claims of anonymity by scientists, DNA is “not a thing that [can] be concealed forever” (Orwell 19). DNA can easily be matched to figure out the physical and medical conditions of anyone.
In 1984, the Party has the right to collect everything without permission. As a result of the Party’s power to freely obtain information, citizens of Oceania do not know the meaning of personal belongings or boundaries. In America, the police also have the right to collect DNA without a warrant at a crime scene. The collection of DNA is “an abolition of private property” since the police seizes a valuable piece of information that biologically identifies an individual (Orwell 206). Apart from crime scene related activities, another way to abuse genetic privacy is through infidelity testing, a DNA test which allows for a mother to check a child’s biological father without the father’s consent or knowledge. The test “raises serious privacy issues,” for even if someone engages in dishonorable behavior, they should not be “stripped of all privacy” (Aldhous). There are a few exceptions to the rule, for serious crime seeking individuals have hurt too...

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