DNA Passports for Canadians

DNA Passports for Canadians

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted May 28, 2007 in DNA and the Law

canada passportJust two days ago, I thought the Russian government was crazy for issuing “genetic passports.” But as it turns out (as it often does), I’m the one who’s naive. A white paper released by the Network on North American Studies in Canada has suggested that Canadians will eventually have to incorporate DNA, biometrics, or other biological information, into passports and other travel documents when traveling to the US. The report also mentions concerns about privacy and confidentiality if such measures are taken.

In 2004, Thomas Greene wrote for The Register:

At present, it’s impossible for any bureau to know that one is who they claim to be. The only near-foolproof way to establish identity would be through universal DNA profiling at birth. After a few generations, virtually everyone could be identified with certainty, so long as DNA identification and verification is required, cradle to grave, for all transactions such as obtaining a birth, marriage, or death certificate, establishing credit, opening a bank account, buying, selling or leasing real property, registering to vote, obtaining a driver’s license or a passport, enrolling in school, registering for military service, employment, and so on. [emphasis mine]

Whatever happened to fingerprints, retinal scans, voice prints?! Sometimes it seems to me that excitement over the coolest technology blinds us to the fact that simpler, less invasive methods are still just as good.

The Star Phoenix, May 28, 2007
NB: In the caption for the Flickr photo featured above, the photographer wrote, “privacy is dead.”

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Comment by laura Subscribed to comments via email


I thought Canada was all about trusting the people who live in there.

Since when did they start taking direction from a science fiction novel. This is not what Canada is about.

I am not happy about this at all! Not that I have anything to hide, mind you.

It all just seems so uncanadian.

DNA profiling sounds so cool…until it becomes a reality.

Comment by Hsien

Laura, Science fiction is the future. Didn’t you know that? ;)

Comment by laura Subscribed to comments via email


science fiction, is FICTION!!!!


(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Hsien

What? And you think life is so real? :D

Comment by Steven Murphy MD Subscribed to comments via email

What in the H-E- “Double Hockey Sticks” (cheesy canadian pun intended)
OMG just when you think we have gone and lost our mind by creating genomic search engine companies ;) jk These other countries are looking to play GATACA. Seriously. Yes I know it is almost midnight here and I have been on call all weekend admitting 35 patients in the span of 2 days. But I have not lost it. This is CRAZY right? Or am I just naive to the level of invasion that a country is willing to subject its citizenry to? And Props to you Hsien “Sometimes it seems to me that excitement over the coolest technology blinds us to the fact that simpler, less invasive methods are still just as good.”
I agree, it’s called a Family History.


Comment by Hsien

Hey Crazy Dr. Steve! hehe I know I’ve told you this before but as much as I think family history is great to know, many people (me included) just don’t have a clue as to what’s in our family members’ medical records. DNA analysis is more clear cut in some ways.

Comment by alicia Subscribed to comments via email

No, this IS crazy Steve – you and Laura are both right. (Well, in my opinion, haha.)

Universal profiling at birth in order to do just about everything but eat, sleep, and potty. Well, unless of course you need a home to eat, sleep, and potty in!

At the risk of being made fun of (and I often take that risk so…haha – but Hsien and Steve sort of alluded to it anyway), I sometimes flirt with the idea of how much simpler things would be if I could go back to my great-grandparents’ ways of living off the land. In every sense of the word.

Oh, and not to push religion in anyone’s face, but isn’t this similar to what’s been sort of predicted in Christianity? I’m not up to par with Christianity or the Bible, but it seems awfully familar to something…

Comment by Hsien

I see what you’re saying, Alicia, about life being simpler back then. But life was also shorter and more brutish in all sorts of other ways. I’m cool with the life I have now!


[...] to think we can genetically engineer superhumans in the manner of Heroes. But as Laura once said to me, “Science fiction is [...]

Comment by Pete Quily Subscribed to comments via email

If you want to see a preview of what such a society might look like if those recommendations are followed, I’d highly recommend viewing the movie Gattica, it’s all about a future society based on genetic determinism.


Comment by Hsien

Hi Pete, How’ve you been? :) I’ll have to get a copy of Gattaca. Ten years since it’s been released! Time flies.

Comment by Pete Quily Subscribed to comments via email

Pretty Good Hsien, yourself?

Yeah it’s a bit old but frankly extremely relevant for today.


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