Voting, Identity, Privacy, DNA

The story about the Court striking down Arizona’s law requiring proof of citizenship is being annoyingly mis-reported as though the court were saying that non-citizens have a right to vote too, or at least that we have to take people’s word for being citizens when they register to vote. The decision simply notes that the federal law about registering trumps state law, and suggests that Arizona should pursue its options to fix federal laws to require more proof of citizenship.

Another court case established that human genes cannot be patented, and therefore belong to the people who have them. Our DNA belongs to us, but that doesn’t mean we have a right to do whatever we want with it, especially creating a human being with it. The only right to create a human being is the right to procreate naturally in marriage. (That will be the next case we hear about soon)

Another case ruled that police can take DNA samples of people arrested and presumably store them in a federal database similar to the FBI fingerprint file. This makes me wonder how they establish who’s DNA they are storing, and how it is used. We know from the case that in some cases it is a match for DNA found at an unsolved crime, perhaps in another state. There was also a story recently about who owns human DNA found in the trash, and whether it can be used in studies or to make medicine, or whether someone can control the uses of their own DNA. Seems to me that it should not be legal to take a hair from Michael Jordan and have babies with it somehow (it is not illegal now), and maybe it should not be legal to take a hair from Barack Obama and see if he is in fact the son of his legal father or of Frank Marshall Davis, though such paternity tests are routinely forced on people to establish support obligations, and become public record.

And also in the news is the NSA spying on phone calls and emails and questions about privacy rights.

All these things point to a need for the federal government to protect us and our communications from unreasonable search and seizure and make sure that no one steals our identity or concocts false identities or defrauds the public. I think the Post Office has Constitutional authority to build a secure and private email system that has built in safeguards against warrantless searches (and unwarranted warrants) and guarantees that even novice computer users have the same privacy and security as savvy users. And they should be in charge of this DNA database and voter registration database too, verifying that each US citizen is registered to vote in only one state and actually lives at the address they are registered at, and no one has multiple legal identities in real life. I bet there are quite a few rich people who are registered to vote in several states because they just don’t know what house they will be at at election time. Surely most never abuse the trust and only vote once, but we should be able to verify that and require them to have only one active registration at a time.

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