Ninth Circuit Issues Long-Awaited Ruling on Constitutionality of DNA Fingerprinting

Jennifer K. Wagner, J.D., Ph.D., is a solo-practicing attorney in State College, PA and a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies.

In December 2009 the Northern District of California upheld the constitutionality of California’s Prop 69, which authorizes DNA fingerprinting as part of the routine booking process of individuals charged with felonies. There, in Haskell v. Brown, the defendants challenged California’s Prop 69 by arguing it violated both the 4th and 14th Amendments since, respectively, DNA fingerprinting upon felony arrest was, according to defendants, an unreasonable search and a violation of informational privacy.


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Filed under Biobanking, Bioinformatics/IT, General Interest, Genomic Policymaking, Genomics & Society, Legal & Regulatory, Pending Regulation, Privacy

Minnesota the Latest to Weigh in on DNA Fingerprinting of Arrestees

Jennifer K. Wagner, J.D., Ph.D., is a solo-practicing attorney in State College, PA and a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies.

There is an increasingly apparent absence of national consensus on whether the practice of collecting a DNA sample and creating a CODIS profile as part of the routine arrest booking procedures (i.e., “DNA fingerprinting”) conforms to the constitutional proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures articulated as the 4th Amendment. We mentioned this topic at the Genomics Law Report previously here, here, and here.

In July 2011, the 3rd Circuit upheld the federal DNA Fingerprinting Act of 20051 in United States v. Mitchell.2 Perhaps perceiving this ruling as a judicial green light, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, as we recently noted, seems motivated to authorize the practice of DNA fingerprinting upon felony arrest. While the Pennsylvania Senate passed S.B. 775 and referred the matter to the House Judiciary Committee in December 2011, no apparent action has been taken on the measure since then.


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Filed under Biobanking, Bioinformatics/IT, General Interest, Genomic Policymaking, Genomics & Society, Industry News, Legal & Regulatory, Pending Litigation, Privacy

Alabama’s “Genetic Information Privacy Act” & the Ongoing Need for Personal Genomics Leadership

Jennifer K. Wagner, J.D., Ph.D., is a solo-practicing attorney in State College, PA and a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies.

Thanks to technological innovation and a corresponding decline in cost, an increasing number of individuals are finding themselves with the task – or at least the opportunity – of accessing and interpreting their own genetic information. Over the past year, several state legislatures have taken notice.

Following on the heels of legislation passed or proposed in California, Vermont and Massachusetts, the Alabama House of Representatives is considering a bill by Representative Henry (pre-filed on January 23, 2012 and scheduled for first read on February 7, 2012) titled the “Genetic Information Privacy Act” (2012 AL H.B. 78). While the bill is relatively brief, its effects as written may reach far beyond those intended.

A New Bar for Informed Consent. First, the bill in its current form would require signature on separate informed consent documents to obtain, retain, or disclose genetic information. As drafted the bill would provide an exception for the insurance industry, permitting a single, integrated informed consent document if the genetic information is being obtained, retained, or disclosed “for the purpose of obtaining insurance” (Page 4, Line 25).


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Filed under General Interest, Genetic Testing/Screening, Genomic Policymaking, Genomics & Society, GINA, Industry News, Informed Consent, Legal & Regulatory, Pending Regulation, Privacy

North Carolina One Step Closer to Compensating Victims of its Eugenics Program

Jennifer K. Wagner, J.D., Ph.D., is a solo-practicing attorney in State College, PA and a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies.

Almost a year ago, North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue set up a Task Force charged with determining how the state should compensate victims of its eugenics program. The Final Report (pdf) by that Task Force was submitted to the Governor on January 27, 2012. If the state legislature takes action to implement the Task Force’s recommendations, North Carolina will become the first state (of the 32 states that had eugenics programs) to compensate the victims of its involuntary sterilization program.


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Filed under General Interest, Genomic Policymaking, Genomics & Society, Industry News, Informed Consent, Legal & Regulatory, Pending Regulation, Privacy

Big Changes Coming in EU Privacy Law

The European Union is about to make major changes in its privacy law that will have a significant impact on U.S. companies that do even modest amounts of business in Europe. On January 25, 2011, the European Commission (the EU’s executive branch) released a long-awaited Draft Regulation on the Protection of Individuals with Regard to the Processing of Personal Data and on the Free Movement of Such Data (pdf).

While it will likely be a year or more before a final regulation takes effect, and there will almost certainly be amendments along the way, American companies – including those involved in the field of personalized medicine, where personal data is paramount by definition – should start paying attention now, since they may have to change the way that they do business in Europe.


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Filed under General Interest, Industry News, International Developments, International News, Legal & Regulatory, Pending Regulation, Privacy

Pennsylvania Joins Growing List of States to License Genetic Counselors

Jennifer K. Wagner, J.D., Ph.D., is a solo-practicing attorney in State College, PA and a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies.

On December 22, 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly adopted two bills (H.B. 332 and H.B. 333) to amend the commonwealth’s Medical Practice Act of 1985 (P.L. 457, No. 112) and the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act of 1978 (P.L. 1109, No. 261) to include provisions that regulate genetic counselors. Pennsylvania Governor Corbett approved the bills and signed them into law the same day.

PA’s GC Law in Context. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ survey of state requirements for genetic counselors, in 2008 only six states required licenses to practice genetic counseling (California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah). Pennsylvania is the latest to join a number of states (including Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and Washington) that have enacted GC licensing laws since 2008. The National Society of Genetic Counselors reports that additional states (e.g. Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin) are considering similar legislation. While the state licensing requirements are similar, state-by-state variation and nuances in the statutes may exist. The following information pertains to Pennsylvania’s new licensing law only.


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Filed under General Interest, Genetic Testing/Screening, Genomic Policymaking, Genomics & Society, Industry News, Legal & Regulatory, Pending Regulation