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Essay on The Double Helix Possesses All: Privacy Issues in the US

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In 1984, George Orwell describes a society that shares eerily similar qualities with the modern world. Oppressed by Big Brother and the Party, citizens of Oceania live their lives without knowing freedom or privacy and being controlled completely by the Party. The Party’s control over the people is similar to the invasive procedure of modern DNA collection. In America, DNA can be taken unwarranted, without permission from crime scenes, where it is used to identify a person by “ethnicity or sex” and “predict hair and eye color, height, age” along with other personal conditions (Murphy). The unlimited collection of genetic evidence causes dehumanizing effects on the American population just as the loss of privacy affects the fictional population of Oceania.
Orwell correctly predicted that privacy would somehow be lost in the future. In Oceania, “the Party owns everything” and “controls everything and disposes of the products as it sees fit” (Orwell 206). Similarly, the US government has control of the national DNA databases, which contain DNA from both convicted felons and innocent people. Although some states choose to expurgate the unneeded DNA, others “allow the government to retain the [DNA] sample indefinitely” (Murphy). Keeping the DNA samples invade the innocent people’s privacy, for the government has ways to identify the biological identity of random humans. There are conflicting issues on whether genetic privacy violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution because, although the Fourth Amendment allows unwarranted searching in exigent circumstances, innocent bystanders sometimes also have their DNA taken for an extra security measure. The unneeded DNA, depending on the state, is most likely in the national database...


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Kolata, Gina. “Poking Holes In Genetic Privacy.” New York Times 16 June 2013. Web.
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Mears, Bill. “Privacy Vs. Prosecution: DNA Testing Gets High Court Review.” CNN
Politics. CNN, 24 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb 2014.
Murphy, Erin. "The Government Wants Your DNA." Scientific American 308.3 (2013):
72. Science Reference Center. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
Orr, Stephen. “Privacy of Genetic Information in Canada: A Brief Examination of the
Legal and Ethical Tools That Should Frame Canada’s Regulatory Response.” Canadian Journal of Law and Technology 3.3 (2004): 127-137.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Penguin Books, 1977.
Taylor, Jerome. “Details of Innocent People are Still Being Held on DNA Database.” The
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