A voter-approved California law requiring police to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony violates the constitutional privacy rights of people who have not been charged with or convicted of a crime, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
The law expanded previous statutes that authorized law enforcement officials to take DNA from convicts and suspects with felony records. Approved by 62 percent of the voters in 2004 and effective in 2009, it required anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony to be swabbed on an inner cheek for genetic material, which would then be forwarded to a database accessible to state and local police and the FBI.
The federal government and about half the states have laws allowing DNA collection from some or all arrestees. Supporters say the measures are minimally intrusive and a powerful police resource in unsolved "cold cases."
Responding to a federal court challenge to the California law last year, then-Attorney General Jerry Brown called DNA evidence "the fingerprint of the 21st century" and declared, "This is no more a violation of privacy than you...