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A New Threat To Your Privacy: Hackers and Identity Thieves May Be The Least Of Your Problems Online or Offline Bill Knell

Some time ago the American Public became aware that the U.S. Government was spying on them through the monitoring of cell phones on a level that was unprecedented and underreported. Most of this covert activity took place under the auspices of the National Security Agency and was eventually ruled to be an illegal incursion into the lives of millions of Americans by other government entities. That does not mean that it stopped altogether, but faced with the limiting of what intelligence agencies considered to be a crucial tool in the war on terrorism and crime, new ways to monitor people’s choices and catch bad guys had to be developed and implemented quickly. The latest method that the government is using to keep an eye on U.S. Citizens and others will likely come as a surprise to you and should cause you to change the way you think of online and offline privacy.

Several companies that help people to trace their ancestry or discover the relationship to them of a potential offspring have recently been ordered by the U.S. Government to turn over the information from the results of DNA samples that people have submitted to them through the mail or in person. These companies are fighting to keep that information private. The problem is that the government is using a Supreme Court decision that allows police agencies to collect DNA samples from anyone and everyone under arrest to make the argument that their is no real right of privacy when any government agency in charge of keeping Americans safe requests DNA samples. The government argues that they have the right to that information because of a need to protect and maintain national security. I believe this is a stretch when it comes to using the Supreme Court decision on DNA samples in such a way, but no one really knows how courts will eventually rule on such matters.

There are a number of U.S. Government initiatives that seem to indicate that the powers that be now want to use DNA to trace and keep track of people. According to several different sources, the government is developing a new system which will allow them to track down anyone using physiological signatures. This system will augment cell phone or Internet monitoring which has become less fruitful now that courts have limited the scope of those actions. This new system may eventually all but replace simple monitoring as the power of science to track people through their DNA takes on new and disturbing dimensions. With thumbprint or fingerprint identification now a part of many everyday transactions like cashing a paycheck or receiving some government benefits, imagine a day not far off when a DNA sample can be automatically, secretly and technologically taken with or without permission every time a fingerprint is requested.

With all this in mind we have to begin to think twice before we point and click online to order a DNA testing kit to trace our ancestry or for any other reason. It is a given that any person who is online or has been for any length of time has already given up too much information. Just about anyone in the know (especially hackers) can easily obtain any personal information about you that they want and trace your daily activities through a huge number of sources including social media. The real threat will come on the day that the government no longer allows people to identify themselves solely through a photo identification card, social security number or birth certificate by claiming that those methods have become obsolete and too easily comprised. Instead, DNA may become the primary method of identification. When that day comes identity thieves will already have a rich crop to farm from all the samples and information collected and potentially mismanaged by local, state and federal government authorities. Look for a time not long off before you have to submit a DNA sample to obtain a Driver’s License.

You must start protecting your DNA now, and that means avoiding the frivolous or non-essential use of that type of testing. Sadly, I feel that the government will get the DNA information they want regardless of any action or inaction on our part as far as voluntary testing goes. Think of all the ways that they can obtain those types of samples which might even include our desire to help people or ourselves through blood donations. There is no way to know if the government has already began to farm those fields. The recent government funding of the transfer from old style paper and other obsolete methods of storing medical records to electronic storage may have been meant as a way to better maintain and protect such information, however, imagine what the government could do if they were able to access those files which in many cases may include DNA profiles? The best way to fight this type of government interference in the everyday lives of people is to contact your local, state and federal representatives and demand that they act to better protect and preserve your privacy before you have none.


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