In recent years, criminal investigations have increasingly begun to use DNA as evidence in criminal proceedings due to its reliability and accuracy as compared to other forensic methods. Now, a few different companies are making devices that use DNA as a sort of invisible bar code to tag people. The devices allow bank and police officers to spray or splat perpetrators with millions of copies of a colorless DNA tag at the scene of the crime while they are committing the crime.
The DNA tags are made with entirely artificial sequences, so that every tagging device may have a difference sequence. The genetic material is difficult to wash off completely and lasts about two weeks.
The new technology would allow police to accurately identify suspects in crimes such as bank robberies or other thefts. It could also help to reduce police’s reliance on eyewitness identifications, which studies have shown are often inaccurate not only due to preparation and administration of lineups but also plain and simple human error.
This seems like new and interesting technology. While it appears, on its face, to perpetuate more reliable criminal justice outcomes, does it have the potential to ensnare innocent individuals who are innocently at the scene of a bank robbery, for example, but accidentally come into contact with this genetic fog?