2020 Bills

HB 231: Protecting Your DNA Privacy

This bill never received a vote.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

Millions of consumers are providing DNA samples to companies in exchange for analysis about their health, family connections, and more. This information has been very helpful for genealogical research and family history. However, law enforcement has recently shown interest in fishing around in these databases in hopes of finding leads to solve crimes.

While solving cold cases is very important, allowing law enforcement to do warrantless searches, without any particularized suspicion (as required by the U.S. Constitution), is extremely problematic. As described in our policy brief, these mass searches violate privacy and expose individuals to law enforcement access to which they did not consent, let alone the family members who share their DNA who are now exposed.

Representative Craig Hall is sponsoring House Bill 231 to protect DNA privacy. The bill allows law enforcement to continue using DNA in investigations when they have a suspect (to confirm a potential match between that suspect and a DNA sample in law enforcement’s possession) or to check a sample against a federal or state DNA database (CODIS, for example).

The bill prohibits suspicion-less searches beyond these examples where law enforcement doesn’t know the identity of a DNA sample’s donor and wishes to search through the private information of potentially millions of individuals.

Simply put, private DNA should stay out of the government’s hands.

The Utah Legislature has—in the name of privacy—limited law enforcement’s use of drones, mobile tracking devices, license plate readers, body cameras, digital data snooping and other emerging technologies. They should do so with DNA technology as well.