When should courts and police be allowed to take your DNA?
Forced DNA sample in Ont. animal abuse case sparks privacy debate
An Ontario man convicted of animal abuse has been ordered to give a DNA sample in case he commits crimes in the future.
Justice Micheline Rawlins of Ontario Superior Court ordered the man to submit his DNA to a national police databank used to solve crimes, telling court Monday, "people who become serial killers begin with small animals."
- DNA order in animal abuse case sparks privacy debate
- DNA swabs part of P.E.I. RCMP efforts to nab elusive burglar
In P.E.I. last year, RCMP asked residents near a string of burglaries to voluntarily submit their DNA.
Both cases raised concerns from civil liberties groups, which argue DNA collection erodes privacy and violates civil rights. We asked you: When should courts and police be allowed to take your DNA? Should animal abuse cases warrant submitting DNA? If not, what does?
You weighed in via CBC Forum, our new experiment to encourage a different kind of discussion on our website. Here are some notable comments, insights and thoughts from that discussion.
(Please note that user names are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the user name to see the full comment in the blog format.)
Several sided with the court's DNA order.
- "I think that anyone who violates the rights of others, including animals, is subject to whatever punishment the law hands down. I believe that in cases where an individual acts in such an inhumane way having a sample of his DNA is a move to actually protect the rest of the public, rather than violate the privacy of the criminal." — Bizzum
- "Given that this individual readily admitted to abusing this animal, there is no issue with the order to submit a DNA sample. It seems a rather insignificant infringement of his privacy given the nature of the crime." — Tehkummah
- "When you are convicted of a crime, you forfeit some of your rights. I have no issues with the collection of DNA from criminals (especially violent ones). What he did was disturbing. Take his DNA." — Shannon Heyman
Some thought even more could be done.
"DNA should be collected at birth for every child born in Canada. It would be invaluable for health care services, police, etc. Names are stored, fingerprints, photos, blood type, SSN. Our DNA is just us. Get over it and start collecting." — Wise Guy
There was much opposition though, with many against giving out their DNA.
- "A fingerprint is like the cover of a book: it identifies the book. Police need to identify criminals and fingerprints do that now. DNA samples are like the entire book and police simply don't need that much information. Nor should they be trusted with that much information." — A finger print is like the…
- "DNA crosses a line. It assumes he will commit another crime and that's pretty prejudiced. Not to mention, it's a perfect example of how governments can use fear to undermine our rights." — Shyguy
- "This stinks of George Orwell's 1984. It might make sense in the case of violent offenders where human life is at risk but to be catalogued at birth sets a dangerous precedent. Who is to say that the data could not be misused?" — Philip Hynes
Others believed it was a sign of our future.
- "When you are arrested, your fingerprints are taken. When that practice began was it considered controversial or in the best interest of the public? DNA sampling is an extension of the identification process." — Angela