The number of DNA searches in the US is likely to increase now that the FBI has given US law enforcement agencies access to a quick DNA identification system. The FBI has specifically approved the use of the RapidHIT ID DNA Booking System, which allows the police to collect, process, and match a DNA sample from an arrested individual in as little as 90 minutes.
The RapidHIT system comes courtesy of Thermo Fisher Scientific, and was designed primarily for law enforcement applications. It is compatible with many of the more popular DNA collection swabs, and requires only a single sample to carry out a match. In that regard, the FBI approval will allow police departments to search against the CODIS database stored as part of the US National DNA Index System (NDIS), which will dramatically expand the pool of potential hits whenever the police bring someone in to book them for a crime.
Law enforcement officers believe that the system will help solve both active and cold cases. The CODIS database includes DNA samples taken from older crime scenes, so the RapidHIT system could link an arrestee to one of those older cases, in addition to the case that led to their arrest.
Of course, that kind of DNA collection system would seem to raise obvious civil liberties concerns. Thermo Fisher stressed that the police can only collect DNA samples from eligible individuals, though different states have different eligibility laws. Some only allow the police to collect samples from those suspected of select crimes, while others allow them to collect samples from anyone arrested for a felony. Those samples are obtained prior to conviction, so the widespread use of RapidHIT will increase the number of people in federal DNA databases.
Thermo Fisher has previously supplied China with the DNA collection kits needed to build a massive biometric database. The RapidHIT system, meanwhile, comes with built-in auditing and reporting features, and will automatically delete some information in accordance with FBI guidelines. Even so, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has argued that the police should not be able to conduct DNA searches without a proper warrant.
Source: Homeland Security Today
July 19, 2021 – by Eric Weiss