Connect with us


US Government Kicks Off Controversial DNA Collection Program

This is the first attempt to collect DNA of individuals who are detained but not charged with a crime.




DNA Collection Program

(TMU) — On January 3, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a Privacy Impact Assessment detailing plans to collect DNA from individuals temporarily detained at border crossings.

Border Patrol launched the 90 day pilot program on Monday at the Canadian border near Detroit and at the official port of entry at Eagle Pass, Texas. After the pilot period the program will be expanded nationwide.

According to the Privacy Impact Assessment, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Laboratory provides DNA collection kits which allow authorities to take a cheek swab and send the DNA samples to the FBI. CBP and ICE have already had the legal authority to collect DNA from detained persons since the passage of the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005. However, while previous efforts to collect DNA have focused exclusively on foreign citizens, this is the first attempt to collect DNA of individuals who are detained but not charged with a crime.

The Assessment states:

Effective January 6, 2020, CBP will begin collecting DNA from any person in CBP custody who is subject to fingerprinting. This will include aliens as well as United States citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (U.S. Persons). As with all other DNA samples that federal law enforcement agencies collect under the authority of the DNA Fingerprint Act, CBP will send DNA samples from its DNA population13 to the FBI, which will enter results into CODIS.

The authorized method of DNA sample collection from non-convicts in federal custody, such as those detained for some administrative immigration violations, is by buccal (cheek) swab. Using DNA sample kits provided by the FBI, CBP agents and officers will collect a DNA sample by taking a cheek swab from every individual within scope of the new regulation and submit the DNA samples to the FBI for processing and entry in the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) system.”

The assessment clearly outlines the groups who will be affected by the DNA collection program once fully implemented. This includes criminal arrestees—including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and aliens—all non-U.S. Persons detained for processing under administrative proceedings and released on their own recognizance; all non-U.S. Persons who are detained for processing under administrative proceedings and voluntary withdraw application; all non-U.S. Persons subject to expedited removal, reinstatement of removal, or administrative removal; and all voluntary returns.

Stephen Kang, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told the New York Times that the new DNA collection procedures “raises a lot of very serious, practical concerns, I think, and real questions about coercion.”

The assessment pays lip service to examining privacy risks but offers no real solutions. The federal agencies’ main concerns seem to be that people are not aware they have no choice when it comes to handing over their DNA. For example, the DHS worries that “individuals in federal custody will not be aware they must provide a DNA sample to law enforcement officers.” In fact, another privacy risk plainly states that “DNA collection requires no consent and is not voluntary.”

The section titled “Mitigation” states:

This risk cannot be mitigated. If individuals refuse to provide a DNA sample (i.e., are not compliant), then DHS may pursue criminal prosecution. The statute mandating DNA sample collection specifically states that an individual subject to DNA-sample collection who fails to cooperate in the collection of that sample may be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”

Another section titled “Privacy Risk” notes that “individuals whose DNA sample is collected while the individuals are children will not be aware that their DNA profile will remain on file with FBI in perpetuity.” It is this collection and storage of DNA “in perpetuity” which sparked backlash from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and a coalition of civil liberties and immigrant rights organizations.

The organizations first opposed a rule change that expanded the DNA collection abilities of CBP and ICE. The coalition called the rule “unacceptable and unnecessary privacy intrusion” that will have a dangerous impact on the individual being detained but also their family members. In an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, EPIC argued that law enforcement’s warrantless collection of DNA is unconstitutional.

The DNA collection plans come after the October 2019 announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ) detailing their plans to mandate DNA collection almost all immigrants who cross the border and are held temporarily. Unlike the DHS assessment, the DOJ announcement did not apply to permanent residents or those legally entering the United States.

The consideration of DNA collection is one that has long been discussed by the Trump administration and supporters of his vision of building a wall between the United States and Mexico. The Border Security for America Act—one of several bills considered in relation to Trump’s desire to build a wall—would require new biometric systems to be up and running at the nation’s 15 busiest airports, seaports, and land ports within two years. After five years all land and sea ports of entry would require biometric systems to be running.

Some of the most worrisome portions of the bill include biometric scanning of all people who exit the United States, both citizens, and foreigners. In addition, the text of the bill calls for DNA collection of “any individual filing an application, petition, or other request for immigration benefit or status.”

Of course, the use of DNA collection and profiling has long been the domain of the U.S. government. Back in 2015, under the Obama administration, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations for failing to provide documents related to the Rapid DNA system. The FBI said they found no responsive records to Freedom of Information Act requests made by the EFF.

Rapid DNA analyzers are machines designed to allow processing of a DNA sample in as little as 50 minutes. The machines are portable and roughly about the same size as a laser printer. This means that law enforcement using Rapid DNA can collect a DNA sample from a suspect, and match the profile against a database without the help of a scientist in an accredited lab. The EFF stated this would lead to further invasions of privacy.

By Derrick Broze | Creative Commons |


Jeff Bezos Thanks Amazon Workers And Customers For Paying For His Flight To Space

Elias Marat



The billionaire space race chalked up one more ignoble milestone on July 20 when the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, boarded a reusable rocket his company Blue Origin built and funded, flew to the edge of space for a moment of weightlessness, and came back down to earth.

You can watch the flight and learn more about the journey here.

The Amazon founder has faced withering criticism for accumulating his massive fortune on the backs of an exploited workforce that is subject to harsh working conditions and low pay in warehouses or Fulfillment Centers where staffers must urinate in water bottles in order to meet their quotas.

In his press conference following the launch, Bezos thanked that same workforce for helping him to shoot himself into space in a move that many critics have described as a simple “joyride.”

“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for this,” he told the crowd, which responded with laughter. “Seriously, for every Amazon customer out there and every employee thank you from the bottom of my heart very much. It’s very appreciated.”

Critics on Twitter responded with derision, noting that Bezos was able to enjoy the trip at the expense of his hard-working employees.

“Thing is, employers are supposed to pay their employees, not the other way around, but that’s basically how Amazon works,” one user tweeted.

While another tweeter asked: “Maybe they’re searching space for signs of a livable wage or a way to pay their fair share of taxes?”

On Tuesday, Bezos blasted off in the sub-orbital New Shepard rocket from Texas. The date for the launch was chosen to coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Members of the crew, which included his brother mark and 82-year-old female astronaut Wally Funk, brought a number of historic items on the flight, including a piece of canvas from the conceptual plane originally flown by the Wright brothers, the goggles Amelia Earhart used to fly across the Atlantic, and a brass medal made from the first hot air balloon which flew in 1783.

Continue Reading

Good News

Keanu Reeves Praised As Video of Him Offering Seat to Lady in Subway Resurfaces

Elias Marat



Keanu Reeves is an actor who has long been loved by audiences —and not necessarily due to his acting skills, but due to how nice the John Wick star is.

And now, Reeves is once again earning praise as a “true gentleman” after resurfaced video footage shows Reeves giving up his seat on the subway.

The clip was shared by Instagram film fan account Cinemonkeys where it has since earned nearly 45,000 likes.

The video footage dates back to 2011, when it was shared on YouTube by a user of the video-sharing platform.

At the time, Reeves was already a superstar riding on the fame he earned from the Matrix, Speed, and a number of other blockbuster hits.

When Reeves notices a woman carrying a heavy bag, he quickly points to his seat and asks if she would like to sit. The woman accepts and Reeves gets up without hesitating to let her take his seat.

Reeves, ever the model citizen, then stands and holds onto a subway pole while carrying his bag.

The video has since been watched over 27 million times and was even cited in a 2019 Time magazine profile of the actor describing Reeves as the “soul mate” of the internet.

The resurfacing of the clip on Instagram once again impressed users of the platform.

“This human being’s soul honestly shines so bright,” wrote one user.

“OMG I love him in every single way,” another person commented.

His kindness knows no bounds,” commented someone else.

Keanu is set to reprise his role as Neo in the upcoming fourth Matrix film directed and written by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed the earlier trilogy with her sister Lilly. He will also return to the silver screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which will be released in 2022.

Continue Reading


Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber

Elias Marat



An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.

In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.

“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”

As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.

Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.

“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.

Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.

So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.

“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”

As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.

Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.

“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”

Continue Reading