This week, when police in Edmonton, Canada, released a suspect’s image, the crude graphic didn’t come from CCTV or a bystander’s phone, it came from the suspect’s DNA.
Everyday genetic surveillance is no longer just a thing on Black Mirror—it’s being widely used abroad, and increasingly in America as well.
Recently, China’s central government classified genetic information as a national strategic resource, subject to broad control. Since 2016, Chinese police have taken DNA from one-third of Tibetans, following mass DNA collection from Uyghurs facing genocide in Xinjiang. But China’s mass surveillance isn’t a dystopian outlier, it’s a preview of forms of DNA-based surveillance that is already expanding in America, and that China exports to the Global South.
Many of us think that there is nothing more private, more intimate than our DNA, the roadmap to our every cell. But we have some bad news: Much of our DNA isn’t private anymore, at least not from the police. For many, American genetic surveillance has reached a tipping point where keeping our DNA out of police hands is often... see more