DNA Fingerprint Database For Workers Gattaca-Style Proposed

Do we need a national DNA or fingerprint database for all American workers to address the immigration problem? New York's Republican mayor Michael Bloomberg has gone on record advocating such a plan - a biometric identification system that would be compulsory for all workers.

Bloomberg ran a company for twenty years before becoming mayor; NYC has an estimated half-million illegal immigrants. He does not believe that such a system would not violate the privacy of citizens and is not a civil liberties issue.

Critics point out that such a database would quickly come to be used by all sectors of the government, as well as private industry. A number of rights guaranteed to us by the US Constitution would be violated by use of such a database, including the right to privacy and the presumption of innocence under the law. Also, I haven't heard anything about forcing wealthy investors or business owners to participate.

European countries contemplating such measures refer to a "principle of proportionality" - the idea that creating a national DNA database would be disproportionate to the ends pursued. The indiscriminate gathering of personal information on a national scale would not be proportional to the benefit.


(Gattaca: Employees pass compulsory DNA testing stations)

As far as science fiction, the literature of imagination, is concerned, compulsory national DNA or fingerprint databases are not exactly synonymous with free societies. To take just one recent example, in the 1997 sf film Gattaca, compulsory participation in a DNA database enforces strict genetic standards. The film was directed and written by Andrew Niccol, and starred Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law.


(Employees provide a DNA sample upon entry)

Ultimately, the contents of this database determine who is allowed to fully participate in society. People who are brought into the world without genetic engineering form an underclass, whose very DNA denies them access. Robert Heinlein, writing on this subject in 1942 in his novel Beyond this Horizon, called the unfortunate "normal" people control naturals.


(A droplet of blood from each employee is analyzed)

Read more at NYC mayor advocates U.S. worker database . Thanks to Vik of New Zealand for pointing out the sf connections of this USA story for us!

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/28/2006)

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Biometrics Glossary
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