By Simon A. Cole[*]
It is a challenge to reply to a response when its very title pleads that we put the issue of whether forensic DNA profiles contain predictive medical information to rest. I agree that the recent exchange between Professors Joh, Kaye, and myself has probably beaten the “junk DNA” horse past the point of expiration. One thing we all agree upon is that the potential privacy violations engendered by the storage of forensic DNA profiles in law enforcement databases is a “distraction,” as Professor Kaye puts it, from the potential privacy issues posed by the storage of DNA samples in law enforcement and other government repositories.
Nonetheless, this exchange has not been a useless exercise. It began when I discovered Professors Joh and Kaye’s contributions during my effort to better understand—and, therefore, more clearly convey in my own writing—the state of scientific knowledge concerning the claim that the information held in law enforcement genetic databases is innocuous from a privacy standpoint. Professor Joh asserted that the claim of innocuousness was not true, and Professor Kaye countered that Professor Joh’s claim was flatly “false.” Under such circumstances, I was at a loss as to what to tell my own readers. Therefore, I traced back Professor Kaye’s key source, and offered my own contribution to the debate, suggesting that both authors had engaged in a certain degree of oversimplification.