Big brother may have your code – your genetic code that is. The FBI maintains a DNA database, the “Combined DNA Index System” or CODIS, that is used for forensic science purposes. Traditionally, DNA has been taken from crime scenes as well as suspects and those convicted of crimes.
But what about the DNA voluntarily given over for genealogy purposes to companies such as Ancenstry.com and 23andMe – does the government have access to your DNA from those sources? The answer is – sort of. Technically, a court order can be issued requiring DNA databases to release specific records. But what about getting rid of your DNA record altogether? Much like the internet, it may be “forever”.
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in two consolidated cases wherein juvenile offenders who had provided DNA in the course of being sentenced as felons requested to have their samples expunged from the California Department of Justice DNA database. Important to understanding the reasoning here is Proposition 47 which reclassified many felonious cases, and these specific former felons, as misdemeanors – and misdemeanors do not require a DNA sample. However, Proposition 69 expands said database and lead to the court’s conclusion that this situation does not warrant “expungement on the ground that conduct previously deemed a felony is now punished only as a misdemeanor”.