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A DNA Database For All U.S. Workers? 625

Posted by Zonk
from the he-has-the-best-ideas dept.
fragmer writes "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested a plan on Wednesday that would establish a DNA or fingerprint database to track and verify all legal U.S. workers. The mayor said DNA and fingerprint technology could be used to create a worker ID database that will 'uniquely identify the person' applying for a job, ensuring that cards are not illegally transferred or forged. Bloomberg compared his proposed federal identification database to the Social Security card, insisting that such a system would not violate citizens' privacy and was not a civil liberties issue."
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A DNA Database For All U.S. Workers?

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  • Oh Orwell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by r_jensen11 (598210) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:19PM (#15416373)
    The power lies with the proles.
    • Re:Oh Orwell (Score:5, Interesting)

      by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:42PM (#15416743)
      Actually, power lies with guns (as it always has), whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive that it is the Duty of the People to alter or abolish it.
      • your opposition has clusterbombs and cruise missiles.

        sum.zero
      • by raehl (609729) <(raehl311) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:25PM (#15416912) Homepage
        Actually, power lies with guns (as it always has), whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive that it is the Duty of the People to alter or abolish it.

        You're an idiot, and this is just an assaninely stupid statement.

        What you seem to have missed out on is that in 1776, the guns the populace had and the guns the government had were the same, so the side that won was pretty much based on how many people you had, influenced by your ability to pay them, and their emotional/economic investment in the fight.

        In modern day resistence, guns are so useless that they're only used against extremely poor governments. You might be able to stage a revolution in the Congo with guns, hell, you can even do it with enough people and some machetes, but there is just no way that you can keep a government like the US government honest with the treat of a firearm. The government is not threatened by a firearm - it is useless against their tank, and it is especially useless after the government has blown up your car.

        Iraqi insurgents have guns. IRA had guns. Hamas has guns. What do these groups do with guns? They try to AVOID using them, because when they make use guns they are visible, and when they are visible people can drop a bomb on them. A gun is useless when your enemy is just going to send a missile into your apartment if they know where you are. They know that guns don't work, which is why they use bombs. Look at the number of Americans killed in Iraq by IED vs. firearm.

        Even with bombs, you're not going to get what you want; all you succeed at doing is creating an environment of poor security, which leads to a poor economy. Even in a poor economy, the government is still better off than the populace. Once you've let the government get out of hand, it's too late: The best you can do is make your economy so bad that your government becomes militarily weak enough that they provoke someone to come and invade you.

        There's a name for places like that: Bosnia.

        Americans must VIGILENTLY protect and excercise their democratic rights to keep the government honest. If it comes time to use guns, we're fucked.
        • by flobberchops (971724) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:51PM (#15417011)
          Stupid Yank. That is obvioulsy why the IRA owned South Armagh and even the police had to be flown in and could not use the roads for safety, even garbage had to be flown out by helicopter from the bases (until the SAS came in and played them at their own game with their underhanded tactics). Get your facts right. Terrorists did a HUGE amount of damage to the UK government and over a LONG period of time. The UK Government had no chance against the populance that dispised them so much.
          • Smart Yank. (Score:3, Informative)

            by raehl (609729)
            That is obvioulsy why the IRA owned South Armagh and even the police had to be flown in and could not use the roads for safety, even garbage had to be flown out by helicopter from the bases (until the SAS came in and played them at their own game with their underhanded tactics). Get your facts right. Terrorists did a HUGE amount of damage to the UK government and over a LONG period of time. The UK Government had no chance against the populance that dispised them so much.

            And? I said that guns are useless fo
          • by Guppy06 (410832) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @07:45AM (#15419905)
            "Terrorists did a HUGE amount of damage to the UK government and over a LONG period of time."

            Except Ulster is still part of the UK and the IRA seems to spend more time killing other Irish than agents of the Crown. And regardless of what "damage" may have been done to the UK, it's kinda hard to have a popular uprising when you lose the "hearts and minds" of the people, or did you not notice the warm reception Gerry Adams has been getting in the US recently?

            Long term, terrorism accomplishes little but tarnishing your own cause as you establish for yourself little more than warlords with a reputation for thuggey (you don't see many Westerners asking for Chechen independence any more, do you?). If you want a successful revolution, you get yourselves uniforms and follow the laws of war, otherwise there's no reason for anybody (friend or foe) to believe that the people building suitcase bombs to support "independence" today won't be building them to support their own personal cause tomorrow.
        • Last I checked assassination were mainly done with guns.

          In a revolution those who are going against the government are generally mixed in with the masses, and are difficult to just hit with nukes and missiles and things.

          I agree that if it comes to using guns we're fucked, but infact both the government and the people are fucked at that point. It would result in total collapse of the system and it would take a great deal of time to repair. If the revolutionaries win, then hopefully the rebuild the system bet
        • by vertinox (846076) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @05:00PM (#15417379)
          The best you can do is make your economy so bad that your government becomes militarily weak enough that they provoke someone to come and invade you.

          You mean... Like spending less than $50,000 to get your minions to fly a plane into a building in which makes the enemy's people go dumb-walled and think by spending their country into oblivion and invading other countries that it will somehow solve a problem that could have been fixed by just installing a hundred dollar lock on all the cockpits doors?

          I'm being sarcastic, but by all accounts it appears that if nothing else, terrorism has done its job. It has made us Americans over react and in effect kill ourselves in the process. (Curing the disease by killing the patient and what not.) I suppose we might be able to recover from the $9 trillion worth of debt and we might be able to recover our freedoms and we just might be able to live like things were before 9/11 (you know... no hassle at the airports... banking without having massive security checks... wiretaps... things like that), but I'm not holding my breath.

          And yes... I agree with you. A crazy man with a hunting rifle is no match for a B-52 and a guided missile.
        • by symbolic (11752)
          I'd argue that a single, well-placed bullet could do a lot more damage than 10 bombs that missed their target. Bullets are for surgical precision, bombs are for propagating widespread destruction and fear. Ever wonder how it is that Bin Laden escaped? Perhaps it was too little emphasis on surgical precision, too much reliance on bombs.
        • by johansalk (818687) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:31PM (#15417774)
          You're right. Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan had guns and, by golly, the bravest men any battlefield might've seen. What happened to them? B-52s flying in round-the-world-trips carpet-bombed them and their entire camp areas into oblivion. What remained of them wherever they were encountered in skirmishes were within hours of battle starting anihilated by rockets coming from submarines emerging thousands of miles away in the middle of the ocean and then submerging again. How can you fight that?! If Al-Qaeda fighters, tough, hardened, passionate and insane, couldn't do it, then I very much doubt an American civil movement could; Americans were reared on an everyman-for-himself capitalist culture, and good luck to anyone who may try to summon in them the sort of passion, irrational dedication and resolve required for a revolution. You can't even convince Americans to care enough about their fellow citizens to adopt universal healthcare, let alone a revolution. And if anyone thinks the US government won't use violence to suppress internal dissent, then look back at what they did to the leftist movements of the 1960s, they broke their back, they used live amunition on campus grounds to shoot demonstrators.
          • by cyberwench (10225) <tunalei@gmail.com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:10PM (#15418351)
            What do you mean, "what remained of them"?

            The Taliban is still a strong presence in Afghanistan, they're far from being defeated. They're not running the _entire_ country anymore, but they're certainly not gone. The troops still there are trying to build up an infrastructure while defeating the Taliban, and it's not going all that hot. It's NATO troops there now, by the way. This really should be common knowledge - I know Iraq is the "in" country right now, but that certainly doesn't mean Afghanistan's done with.
  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:19PM (#15416374) Homepage
    "Bloomberg compared his proposed federal identification database to the Social Security card, insisting that such a system would not violate citizens' privacy and was not a civil liberties issue."

    Just by saying that, he's acknowledging that its a civil liberties issue.
    • it is a civil liberties issue.

      When will gov't realise this?

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:31PM (#15416443)
      Does this moron know how much it would COST to do that? We're talking a DNA sample from every working age adult (15 to ...?).

      Just WHAT is this supposed to give us? Are employers who currently hire illegal aliens suddenly going to pay for DNA/fingerprinting of their employees to find out if they're legal?

      Or is this another expense for the immigration department / police departments? Will they have to check the DNA of everyone they arrest on immigration issues?

      That guy is an idiot.

      Even without the Civil Liberty issues, this idea would be too expensive to implement and yield NOTHING.

      It looks like "immigration" is this year's "child porn". All you politicians need to get on "immigration" today!
      • by David Gould (4938) <david@dgould.org> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:45PM (#15416517) Homepage

        Perhaps a better solution would be to simply tattoo a serial number on everybody's arm -- it'd be functionally equivalent, but much cheaper to implement.

        • Bingo!

          Although there isn't much real difference between issuing someone a Social Security card and tattooing that number upon his body ...

          Yeah, almost everyone can see the difference between issueing a card with a number to a person ... and ... linking that person's body (via tattoos or DNA or fingerprints) to any government authorization.

          Almost everyone. Fascism is a state of mind. It is when you value people's Freedom less than the perceived "efficiency" of your Government.

          The government serves the People
        • by Shelled (81123) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:38PM (#15416731)
          Good idea. Let's test it on the families of politicians first. They believe most strongly in the concept.
          • by mcpkaaos (449561) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:51PM (#15416777)
            Sure. Right after they sign their kids up to go to Iraq.
          • You didn't read the blurb right, they said it's for WORKING people ...
    • 1. Government notices problem.
      2. Media takes problem, makes it a big news story.
      3. Government takes problem and introduces legislation that does more to restrict ordinary law-abiding citizens.
      4. Profit (More Power)

      How many years was illegal immigration going on and companies using them (persumably this DNA database will be designed to curtail that)? And when exactly did the government/news decide to make it a central issue? The governemnt must have seen what a great tool fear, distrust, and anger were to gain power for themselves.
    • Re:If anything... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by symbolic (11752) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:47PM (#15416528)

      If anything, we should have learned from the disaster that the use of our social security number has become. It started out with a use that was extremely limited in scope, and has since become a nearly universal identifier for all kinds of information about us- all without our permission, and in many cases, our knowledge. The proliferation of its abuse is now why we're faced with issues like identity theft.

      This point cannot be emphasized enough: once something like this becomes a problem, it's too late. Have you seen any "solution" to identity theft? Didn't think so. The only effective response is to slam the door closed on these kinds of ideas, and weld it shut.
    • by modecx (130548)
      Frankly, I'm slightly more comfortable with some illegal immigrant using my SSN and personal information to get a job or even a criminal using my information to milk my bank accounts than I am with the government building a fingerprint and DNA database "to track workers".
  • Sounds Familiar (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fullaxx (657461) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:19PM (#15416375)
    Gattaca anyone?
  • politicians it seems ; Big Brother Syndrome

    A day does not pass without some u.s. politician or lawmaker coming up with an idea that would be a step on the road that will turn u.s. people into slave labor.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      But it will stop all terrorists, sexual predators, sexual terroristic predators and sexual predatory terrorists! Surly you don't want our children to all into their hands, which is what you do if you oppose our plan.

      P.S.: God bless America!
  • by xpurple (1227)
    We should not stand for this! We will not stand for it. Stand up America!
  • If they do this to all the suits first and give us techs access to the system. ;P
  • Too much TV. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Bloomberg is a dumbass who watches too much TV. DNA comparisons take weeks to perform, not 5 minutes like on television procedural police dramas. Can you imagine having to wait 4 to 6 weeks every time you cross a border, fly on an airplane, perform a transaction at the DMV, etc. while someone checks out your DNA to verify your identity?
    • Oh don't worry, I'm sure as soon as this doesn't pan out, they'll issue an RFID tag implanted in your skin to 'hold your DNA information' in a more readily accessible format.

      And when that gets hacked, they'll...
  • Social Security? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sinclair44 (728189) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:22PM (#15416392) Homepage
    Bloomberg compared his proposed federal identification database to the Social Security card, insisting that such a system would not violate citizens' privacy and was not a civil liberties issue.
    Yes, I'm sure. Just like when social security was first introduced, we were assured that it wouldn't be abused and used for identification at all -- only social security. That has certainly held over time.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:22PM (#15416393)
    Requiring all Jewish residents to register as such and wear a Star of David on their shirts is also just a purely administrative aid, to stop people cheating the system and could never be used as a real civil liberties issue either.

    I wish people would learn that we can trust the government simply because they tell us we can.
  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:22PM (#15416395)
    However, the first time they use it to identify a criminal, thus making every person in the database a potential suspect, it becomes a civil liberties issue.
  • by dcollins (135727) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:24PM (#15416401) Homepage
    "You don't have to work - but if you want to work for a company you have to have a Social Security card," he said.

    You see, to a Republican, working is purely optional.

    • Nice try at pretending that only Republicans are at fault here. Don't fall for the shell game. Republicans and Democrats are just two wings of the ruling party.

      -jcr
    • "You don't have to work - but if you want to work for a company you have to have a Social Security card," he said.

      You see, to a Republican, working is purely optional.

      Well, he's absolutely right.

      You don't HAVE to work, you could always sponge off the system instead. I'm sure the Republicans would have no problems if you were to do that ...

      Oh, wait, nevermind, I think I'm seeing a problem here.

      Oh, no, wait ... just had to get myself into the proper Republican mindset for the solution: become a wan

  • Privacy Violation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by massivefoot (922746) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:24PM (#15416403)
    Well I would certainly feel that my privacy was being violated. My DNA is private, thank you very much, and the state most certainly does not have a right to the details of it. It would be nice to think that this is the sort of suggestion that would lose a politician his job, but I have a bad feeling that some will find it rather popular.
    • Re:Privacy Violation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by everett (154868) <{efeldt} {at} {efeldt.com}> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:32PM (#15416454) Homepage
      Simple solution, copyright your DNA sequence and then sue anyone that obtains it illegally for copyright infringement, since this is America you will win.
    • Unfortunately, the right to privacy isn't actually in the constitution. We only have some bits of it now because the supreme court has, over the years, made decisions that are further and further from the actual text of the constitution that say that this right is implied there - which means that a new supreme court could come along at any time and overturn those decisions because the right to privacy is NOT, strictly speaking, actually mentioned. Period.

      Which is why we need an amendment guaranteeing the

      • Amendment IX (Score:3, Interesting)

        by khasim (1285)

        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

        Just because it is not specifically listed in the Constitution (or Bill of Rights) does not mean that it is not a Right.

        The problem we're having right now is that our government is intent upon restricting Rights. This story is a great example of that kind of "logic".

        Instead, we need to focus more on the Constitution and show that their power-grabs do NOT conform to the very blata

      • Which is why we need an amendment guaranteeing the right to privacy.

        The problem with that is defining what "privacy" really means without creating more harm than good from unintended consequences (see the Equal Rights Amendment). For example, a lot of people think "right to privacy" means "right to anonymity", which I definitely would NOT support (how do you collect taxes from people who have the right to be anonymous?)

    • It would be nice to think that this is the sort of suggestion that would lose a politician his job, but I have a bad feeling that some will find it rather popular.

      Bloomberg's actually in his second term, which is his final term due to NYC mayoral term limits. Thus, job security is already out the window.
  • by glyph42 (315631) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:24PM (#15416404) Homepage Journal
    Any database that allows people to determine the identities of all the people at any scene, whether it is a crime scene or otherwise, is a civil liberties issue. You were at WHAT social gathering? With WHOM? Now we're going to all have to start behaving like Ethan Hawke in GATTACA, scrubbing off all our dead skin cells before we go out.
  • Well talk about taking the big jump. I always got the impression that the US had far less of an ID culture then say mainland europe (for instance in holland you are legally required to ID yourselve at work every now and then and the state can check and fine you)

    And then you drop a bombshell like this? Not just an ID but a complete DNA database?

    Somebody needs to explain the concept of babysteps to this guy.

    • Yeah, the frog will certainly jump out of the pot if you put the heat on high. As someone corrupt enough to be the mayor of a large city, you'd think he would be smarter than that. Start with the felons and immigrants, move on to the state dependents (welfare recipients) and employees, then work your way up to everybody.
    • Do you think America is any less of an ID culture?

      In most areas, your landlord is required to report who lives at his apartements to the township/county. If you want to work, you need a social security card and number. Bank account? Even if it's only a positive balance (where the bank gives you no credit) - fill out 15 forms please, and 3 forms of ID. Want to go to community college, same thing + certificate of residence. Oh, and to get a blockbuster card (at my local blockbuster) is probably harder to
  • And i thought the last mayor was a psycho.
    • OT: I'm confused by your sig. Why is moderating someone troll or offtopic automatically abusing the system? Why would those options be there if no one should use them? (Or does your sig mean something else? It's a little unclear.)
  • by jabbo (860) <jabbo@yahoo.CHEETAHcom minus cat> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:27PM (#15416418)
    > Bloomberg compared his proposed federal identification database to the
    > Social Security card, insisting that such a system would not violate
    > citizens' privacy and was not a civil liberties issue.

    I'm sure that when a CD-ROM containing DNA markers for every single worker in New York's economy is obtained by the Russian mafia after being stolen from a (vendor|employee|contractor)'s (house|car|laptop), the tight security afforded by the mandatory (fingerprint|weak encryption|screen door) security will be of great comfort to the affected. And instead of some artificial construct like a SSN, a physically significant identity will have been stolen.

    Not to mention that completely resequencing a human's genome is incredibly expensive even today.

    What an incredible jackass. If this comes to pass, move to Singapore, at least they seem to have some grip on what makes business work there.
    • Due to the advanced editing and revision facities offered by Slashdot's cutting-edge architecture, I'm afraid that I have to spread my blather across two posts. My sincerest apologies.

      ([Use the Preview Button! Check those URLs!] - update your fucking software, this isn't a fucking stone tablet I'm hammering out here.)

      Anyways, let's suppose that you can cram some large number of compressed DNA markers (0/1 for some variant, or whatever... many ways to code this) onto a few DVD's. Now, instead of just bein
    • by espressojim (224775) <eris@NOsPam.tarogue.net> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:51PM (#15416544)
      I agree that this data isn't something I want gathered (because trolling for criminals will be too easy). However, as a minor nitpick: you don't resequence the human genome for each individual. You test a relatively small number of single nucleotide polymorhpisms (SNPs) or microsattelite markers. The amount of markers needed is very small to establish uniqueness, and the cost is pretty low per person (it'll cost more to extract the blood and purify the dna than to run the genotyping.) Financially and technically this is very doable, but I don't think it SHOULD be done.
  • Are there no identical twins in the United States?
    • Most politicians don't pay attention in science class.
    • by enitime (964946)
      "DNA and fingerprint technology [...] will 'uniquely identify the person'"

      Good point though. I wonder how the police deal with DNA evidence for twins. I very much doubt their DNA testing is sufficiently advanced to pick up the minor differences in DNA twins have. I guess they have to hope for fingerprints.

      Someone should ask for a DNA sample from mayor Bloomberg. If he has nothing to hide, why not give it to the public? We can test for all kinds of diseases, maybe see if he's predisposed to any mental il

    • No. The Patriot Act coupled with the DMCA specifically prohibit unauthorized copying of DNA by infants.
  • " "You don't have to work _ but if you want to work for a company you have to have a Social Security card," he said. "The difference is, in the day and age when everybody's got a PC on their desk with Photoshop that can replicate anything, it's become a joke."

    So rather than make the cards harder to forge, he tries to solve the stated problem by proposing we give the government our most detailed personal information and trust that they will never use it for purposes outside their stated goal. My favorite p

  • GATTACA. Watch it.
  • Great plan (Score:2, Insightful)

    by keyrat rafa (856668)
    "The mayor said DNA and fingerprint technology could be used to create a worker ID database that will 'uniquely identify the person' applying for a job, ensuring that cards are not illegally transferred or forged."

    Oh great, another plan where we track innocent people in an effort to find the guilty ones. Maybe if they chose opposite strategies they wouldn't be met with such public opposition.
  • by phoenix.bam! (642635) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:38PM (#15416483)
    The employers who bother to ask for an SS card or even go as far as to check the number are not the problem. Even if the workers are illegal they are paying taxes so that's at least a good thing. The only crime is being in the US illegally.

    The actual problem are the employers hiring illegals and paying them under the table.

    The proposed program will only harm actual tax paying workers by collecting informatino that will only help to make them suspects in crimes.

    "Why was your fingerprint on the telephone in that bedroom?" "Because I stayed at a holiday inn this weekend."
    • Even if the workers are illegal they are paying taxes so that's at least a good thing.

      Then why is it that Texas, which has no personal income tax, but gathers their revenue via a sales tax, has a far less illegal alien problem than California, which has one of the highest income taxes of the states, but a lower sales tax?

      The actual problem are the employers hiring illegals and paying them under the table.

      The problem is we have created a system where taxes are collected by employers, and not via some

  • This is definitly bad, but it is not that much different than what exists in most countries today. Already, today, you have some sort of social insurance card, probably a government issued health card, you have credit cards and bank cards which report all transactions to the government, to open any sort of buisness, or do home repair on your house, you need to get an inspection where some government official enters your home or buisness. You can be asked for ID or searched anywhere at any time.

    DNA tracking
  • insisting that such a system would not violate citizens' privacy and was not a civil liberties issue.

    Thank Goodness he insisted it wouldn't violate our privacy or liberties. I feel much better now.

    After all, a politician would never LIE to me, right? I mean how many times, really, as a public official lied about activities that involved denial of liberties. It is not like they detain citizens illegally, or that they listen in and track citizens every action. And it certainly isn't like they would use t

  • So which one of the Bloomberg Youth gets to die first trying to stick me with that needle?
  • by TimmyDee (713324) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:44PM (#15416513) Homepage Journal
    Fuck you!
  • There's been a fingerprint database in existence for quite a few years now. The system is known as AFIS or Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

    Each state or groups of states connects it AFIS system to the FBI and queries are done through III (Interstate Identification Index). Takes 20 minutes or less if previous positive contact was made with law enforcement.

    Bloomberg assumes we're all criminals. We aren't. I'm against the collection of fingerprints or other biometric or biological information
  • Not at IBM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aktzin (882293) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @01:55PM (#15416570)
    When I see Big Brother-ish proposals like this I'm glad my employer is showing some decency and respect for privacy: http://www.ibm.com/news/us/en/2005/10/2005_10_11.h tml [ibm.com]
  • by Dogun (7502) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:10PM (#15416850) Homepage
    I see this as a women's rights issue, in addition to the obvious 'they looked at our DNA!' complaint.

    No employer is ever going to just take a single hair or a few skin scrapings. They're going to want blood, and more than just a finger prick. If they do that before getting back to you with a decision, they could be screening for, say... PREGNANCY. SSRI's. Who knows what.

    Even if the system were perfect it would give employers a blank check to perform unwelcome and illegal tests on job applicants. And that just ain't cool.

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