Forensic DNA and Missing Children: The Legal & Ethical Issues

Since 1983, when the day was designated by U.S. President Ronald Reagan as National Missing Children’s Day in the United States and spreading internationally through the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN), May 25th has been celebrated as International Missing Children’s Day.  GMAC is a jointly sponsored venture of the U.S. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC),  that focuses on educating parents on steps they can take in protecting their children, as well sharing best practices and information in investigating cases of child abduction, trafficking and illegal adoptions.

This year, I have the distinct privilege and great honor of speaking at the conference for Missing Children and Genetic Identity, organized by the Portuguese Association for Missing and Exploited Children [Associaçāo Portuguesa de Crianças Desaparecidas] and sponsored by Genomed, to be held at Lusófona University in Lisbon on the 25th of May 2017 – International Missing Children’s Day.

The conference will explore the connection between modern genetics and forensic science and on national and international efforts to aide investigations of missing and abused children.  The legal and ethical issues surrounding DNA collection and use, the pros and cons of storing DNA samples and maintaining a database of digital DNA ‘fingerprints’ as well as other bio metric information from individuals – convicted criminals, arrested individuals, victims, family members and even the general public – continues to be hotly debated on the national and international level throughout the world.  In addition to issues of privacy and security, the use and potential abuse of genetic and other bio metric evidence, whether to exonerate individuals or convict guilty individuals, is not just complicated, it is inconsistent across jurisdictional borders.  Sharing of critical information that may help identify a child or investigate a missing person, whether or not a crime may have been committed, is neither assured nor routine – despite the obvious benefits a regulated and carefully constructed information sharing system might be to family members, law enforcement and the forensic scientific community.

The conference, one of many throughout  the world on May 25th, will attract distinguished guests and provide a forum for discussion and shine a much needed spotlight on the legal and ethical challenges and opportunities at the intersection of science, law and law enforcement. I will publish a copy of my presentation and remarks after the conference concludes, but if you would like to know more about the conference, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the organizers directly.

 

Bands on the Run

Can you name all the members (and, if applicable their original groups), that made up Wings, The Highwaymen and the Traveling Wilburys?

One Ring To Rule Them All

J.R.R. Tolkien only uses the word “she” once in The Hobbit when referring to Mrs. Bilbo Baggins!

US-EU Data Transfer Privacy Shield

Being referred to by the European Union as the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on May 25, 2018.  There is even a ‘countdown’ clock on the website and under the GDPR, “Personal Data” means information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (including email addresses, telephone numbers, addresses and IP addresses).   While the European Commission has determined a number of countries already meet the ‘adequate protection’ test, the United States is not one of them!

As most readers of Legal Bytes already know, personal data cannot be transferred to from the EU to a non-European Union/European Economic Area country, unless that country can ensure “adequate levels of protection” for such personal data.

As background, in July of 2016, a new framework for the movement of personal data between the EU and the US was finalized – EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks – which was put into place in an effort to meet the requirements of the EU Data Directive.   However, critics noting the holes in that framework, have generated increasing concern as the 2018 effective date of the new EU GDPR approaches.   A few months ago, immediately following the inauguration ceremony, President Trump issued United States’ Executive Order 13768 (January 25, 2017) that has created even greater concern.  While it is possible a new or refined agreement and framework may be put into place in the months leading up to 2018, there is no certainty.

What do you need to know? What should you consider doing now?   My colleague Jill Williamson has written an article which has been published in Risk & Compliance Magazine, entitled “The Fragile Framework of the Privacy Shield“.   If you want to know more about the privacy and data protection implications of the new framework, its potential risks to your business and what you should be considering as you look to the future, feel free to contact Jill Williamson directly.  Of course, you can always contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.

Not Just A Collection of Essays. American History

Our last UBCF question asked you to tell us how many of the 85 essays contained in The Federalist Papers published under the pseudonym “Publius” were actually written by each of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.

The answer:  Alexander Hamilton wrote 51 of them, James Madison wrote 29 and John Jay wrote 5 !

 

Sam Levenson

“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”

The Federalist Papers

Published in 1788, the Federalist Papers was a series of 85 essays defending the U.S. Constitution. Their authorship was simply credited as “Publius.” Only later was it revealed these essays were actually written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. How many did each of them write?

The 56% Typing Solution

When it comes to typing with only the left or the right hand, the “lefties” win the length contest.  Using your left hand on a standard English keyboard typewriter, you can type out the words ‘stewardesses’ and ‘reverberated’ but using your right hand, the longest words you can type in English are ‘lollipop’ and ‘monopoly’.   Then again, since Christopher Latham Sholes invented the modern typewriter, there has always been a left-handed bias. In 1954, “The Wonderful Writing Machine” by Bruce Bliven claimed that the key arrangement actually gives your left hand about 56% of the key strokes.  Since then language has changed so if anyone knows of more up-to-date study, enlighten us trivia types!