“Ditching ‘DNA on Demand’: A Harms-Centered Approach to Safeguarding Privacy Interests Against DNA Collection and Use by Law Enforcement” written by 3L Emma Kenny-Pessia, received an Honorable Mention for Student Paper in The Future of Privacy Forum’s 14th Annual Privacy Papers for Policymakers (PPPM) Awards. The recognition was awarded based on the strength of the research and proposed policy solutions for policymakers and regulators in the U.S. and abroad.
In the introduction, Kenny-Pessia writes:
In February 2022, news broke that the San Francisco Police Department had used a woman’s DNA collected years prior—as part of a rape examination—to arrest her for retail theft. In the wake of this revelation, the city’s district attorney, state and local politicians, advocacy groups, and the police chief himself, all swiftly and forcefully denounced the practice of using DNA collected from sexual assault victims in subsequent, unrelated criminal investigations. Given the invasive nature of rape examinations and the already low reporting rates of sexual assaults to police, the prompt condemnation of using a rape victim’s DNA to investigate them for a later crime is perhaps unsurprising. And yet, by the time the news story broke, the San Francisco Police Department’s practice of routinely searching crime victims’ DNA in unrelated criminal investigations had apparently occurred for seven years, and was even regarded by some in the District Attorney’s office to be “standard operating procedure in the field,” raising serious questions about how this controversial practice had evaded public scrutiny for so long.