CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System, was established by Congress in 1994. It
gives federal funds to states that assist the FBI in collecting DNA information.
By 1998, all 50 states had passed laws requiring local police departments to
collect DNA samples.
As with so many government databases, the original purposes of the CODIS
database were entirely laudable. It was intended to collect only information
about convicted sex offenders.
Now that CODIS is established, however, the push to expand it has begun. In
New York, Governor George Pataki wants to require anyone convicted of a
misdemeanor to submit to DNA profiling. New York City's former police commissioner
has said that anyone who is arrested should have to submit information to the CODIS
The temptation presented to bureaucrats and law enforcement by massive
government databases of highly revealing DNA information are great. The law-abiding
and innocent should resist the growth of databases like CODIS because they represent
clear threats to the privacy, safety, and comfort of everyone.