Monday, August 27, 2007

Guest post on Rights to Privacy, and Police use of Evidence

(A guest post from Dana S. -Brian)

Some people think police use of human DNA that we leave on cups we handle and throw away, or spit we leave on the pavement, is a violation of our privacy. That is absurd. If we are out in public, whatever we do there should be susceptible to examination by police if they suspect us. It is similar to a policeman seeing us doing something. If I am innocent of wrongdoing, my DNA is not going to match up with the perpetrator's DNA at a crime scene, and I am exonerated. (Maybe some of the uproar is due to general ignorance of the science of DNA testing and how strong it is as evidence? Are there a lot of Luddites out there?)

Same thing with video cams on every street corner - more power to the police. Those cameras are not penetrating through the window curtains - if they did, THEN that would be an improper invasion.

On the camera question, those of us here in Florida have the absurd law that a criminal charge will not stick from just a camera photographing a red-light runner. There has to be an enforcement officer observing it. As a result, red-light running, and the accidents resulting therefrom, are some of the highest violations we have here. One of my family members got hit twice in 6 months by red light runners. The authorities are now trying to get around that by photographing just the car license plate (not the driver), and issuing a traffic citation (with a substantial fine) to the owner of the car - that is, until the first time it is challenged in court.

If I am missing something here about my rights to privacy being IMPROPERLY trampled, would someone please let me know?

Dana S.

(Your editor responds: I don't have any problem with the use of DNA evidence from discards, or the use of appropriately-situated surveillance cameras like red light cameras. I do, however, have a problem with becoming an always-watched, all-the-time surveillance society like Britain is becoming. There's nothing illegal about government cameras tracking every inch of city sidewalk, but I think there is a gray-area problem with this affecting privacy to the level of decreasing the quality of life. Anonymity is itself a form of privacy protection, and the loss of anonymity in an all-surveillance society is a problem, I think. Anyway, I'm sure Dana would be happy to read and respond to other people in the comments.)

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