Project:  Forensic DNA


The use of forensic DNA databases by law enforcement around the globe is expanding at a rate that should be of great concern to civil libertarians. A crime prevention tool that was originally intended only to identify the most dangerous convicted felons on a case by case basis is now routinely being used for a multiplicity of purposes that pose significant privacy and civil rights concerns to every citizen. DNA profiling is far different from other methods of identification such as fingerprints. It is a window into an individual’s medical history and that of their entire family. Among the issues raised by the expanding use of DNA databanks that pose a very serious threat to global democracy and privacy are:  the permanent retention of DNA samples of individuals never convicted of a crime, DNA "dragnets" (collecting DNA from populations) devoid of individualized suspicion and weak safeguards for the information once it is collected, and DNA surveillance of families (familial DNA searches).

 CRG Files Landmark Brief with US Supreme Court Challenging, on Racial Justice Grounds, Collection of DNA upon Arrest


Forensic DNA: A Human Rights Challenge

Forensic Genetics Policy Initiative Launches New Website


CRG Opposes Bill in Nevada Authorizing Police to Take DNA Upon Arrest

At the NY Capital CRG Speaks Out Against Unreasonable DNA Database Expansion

CRG Urges NY Governor to Reconsider DNA Database Expansion in New OP-ED

Visit CRG's Guide to Forensic DNA Databases Worldwide


Forensic DNA in the US:  Current Law and Policy 2013

CRG Contributes to New Report:  European Privacy and Human Rights

CRG, GeneWatch UK and Privacy International Call for End to United Arab Emirates DNA Database  2011

DNA and Innocence by Patricia Williams, JD.

Protecting Privacy and the Public - Limits on the Police Use of Bioidentifiers in Europe by George Annas, J.D., M.P.H. 

A New Era of DNA Collections: At What Cost to Civil Liberties. T. Simoncelli & S. Krimsky

The Potential for Error in Forensic DNA Testing (and How That Complicates the Use of DNA Databases for Criminal Identification) by William C. Thompson

Forensic DNA Collection: A Citizen's Guide to Your Rights

Forensic DNA Databases and Human Rights

Legislative Materials:

CRG Analysis of Forensic DNA Database Bill Introduced in South Africa's Parliament, 2013

CRG Analysis of Forensic DNA Database Bill Introduced in India's Parliament, 2012

CRG Urges Presidential Bioethics Commission to Address Rapid Growth of Forensic DNA Databases 2011

Massachusetts State Legislature Testimony, June 2011 by Jeremy Gruber

Massachusetts State Legislature Testimony, July 2009 by Jeremy Gruber

Massachusetts State Legislature Testimony, October 2009 by Jeremy Gruber

CRG in the Press:

High Court to Rule on DNA Collection from Suspects, Afro Briefs November 2012

All Crimes Registry? Not yet
, Albany Times Union January 2012

Saratoga and Washington county officials hail Gov. Cuomo's DNA Database proposal Saratogian, January 2012

Expanded NY Database? CBS News, January 2012

Palace Denies "Shameful" Database Link, Public Service UK, March 2011

Create a National DNA Database?, New York Times, March 2010

GINA's Genotypes, Michigan Law Review, March 2010

New Rule Allows Use of Partial DNA Matches, New York Times, January 2010

DNA Profiling: A Public, Private Database, by Sujatha Byravan, India Together 2009

Race and DNA Databases:

The racial disparity in criminal arrests and convictions in the United States - especially felony drug offenses— is echoed and potentially exaggerated in DNA databases.  Please visit our discussion of race and DNA databases here.


American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Forensic DNA Ethics, Penn Center for Bioethics

GeneWatch UK

Privacy International


GeneWatch: Current Issue
Lobbying and propaganda around gene drive technologies threaten to erode public trust in science. By Christophe Bo√ęte
Review of the film A Dangerous Idea: Eugenics, Genetics and the American Dream. By Jaydee Hanson
Book review: Making Sense of Genes by Kostas Kampourakis. By Stuart A. Newman
GeneWatch: Archives