Forensic Law Turns to Epigenetics

Privacy advocates are arguing that collecting genetic data upon arrest is an invasion of privacy, given recent evidence that 80 percent of the human genome is functional.

Edyta Zielinska
Sep 25, 2012

In a case that challenges California’s practice of collecting DNA upon arrest, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is asking a court to consider the recently reported ENCODE project, which has stated that at least 80 percent of the human genome is functional, and should therefore be considered private information.

Much of the argument for DNA collection rested on the idea that the sections of the genome analyzed—the 13 markers that are part of state and national databases of DNA profiles from convicted offenders (CODIS)—would only reveal an individual’s identity and no other physical traits. But the new ENCODE findings suggest that even these regions may have a function, and could reveal sensitive information as a person’s disease susceptibility, among other personal traits.

However, since the ENCODE papers were released, a number of researchers have criticized how the results were publicized, and many researchers have taken issue with how the word...

(Hat tip to GenomeWeb.)