Wednesday, 3 November 2004
California voters, hoodwinked, expand DNA database
I generally respect reasonable disagreements on complex issues. Even when I think the majority gets it wrong, I rarely think voters were bamboozled. Unfortunately, that is what happened yesterday when California voters approved Proposition 69.
The proposition was popularly called a measure to expand the state's "Felon DNA Database" — see, for example, the San Francisco Chronicle's return page for this proposition. I have never seen a ballot initiative so deceptively described. Every supporting editorial, radio spot, and flier touted how it would help "catch criminals" — which it just might do. Unfortunately, they ignored its devestating effect on everyone else's privacy. Privacy was rarely, if ever, mentioned in the supporting arguments — not even to refute the compelling arguments against the measure.
Privacy was not even a blip on the radar screen: it was a speck of dust flicked off the screen by a bored radar operator. I cannot recall the last time my level of frustration with a public debate was this high.