A growing number of articles on Techdirt attests to the fact that the use of DNA is becoming commonplace in many fields, thanks to the continuing drop in the costs of gathering and analyzing genetic material. As those costs fall, of course, so the temptation to roll out the use of DNA more widely increases. It looks like Kuwait has the dubious honor of being the first nation to require everyone's DNA -- including that of visitors to the country. The Kuwait Times has a frighteningly matter-of-fact article about the plan, which is currently being put into operation. Here's how the DNA will be gathered:
Collecting samples from citizens will be done by various mobile centers that will be moved according to a special plan amongst government establishments and bodies to collect samples from citizens in the offices they work in. In addition, fixed centers will be established at the interior ministry and citizen services centers to allow citizens give samples while doing various transactions.
Those who are not citizens of Kuwait will be sampled when they apply for residence permits:
Collection will done on issuing or renewing residency visas through medical examinations done by the health ministry for new residency visas and through the criminal evidence department on renewing them.
As for common-or-garden visitors to the country:
Collection will be done at a special center at Kuwait International Airport, where in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Department, airlines and embassies, visitors will be advised on their rights and duties towards the DNA law.
"Rights and duties" basically means: "no DNA, no way Kuwait", since the article says elsewhere:
the test will be mandatory for visitors
The DNA will not be used for medical purposes, such as checking for genetic markers of disease, which will avoid issues of whether people should be told about their predisposition to possibly serious illnesses. Nor will the DNA database be used for "lineage or genealogical reasons." That's an important point: a complete nation's DNA would throw up many unexpected paternity and maternity results, which could have massive negative effects on the families concerned. It's precisely those kinds of practical and ethical issues that advocates of wider DNA sampling and testing need to address, but rarely do.
Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+