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What if the United States government took the DNA of vast numbers of Americans for use without their consent? The Trump administration has just brought us one step closer to that dystopia. On January 6, the federal government began collecting DNA from any person in immigration custody — previously, it had required only fingerprints. With this move, the federal government took a decisive step toward collecting and tracking large numbers of its citizens’ genetic information too.

The federally administered CODIS, or Combined DNA Index System, has expanded dramatically in scope since its inception. Virginia established the first forensic DNA database in 1989, with the federal government following suit in 1994. Today, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government collect, store and share genetic information through CODIS. Initially, many states limited DNA collection to sex offenders. But today, nearly all states compel DNA from all convicted felons, while many states collect DNA from individuals convicted of mere misdemeanors. Most states also collect DNA from some individuals merely arrested on charges of, but not yet convicted of, a... see more