May 2016

Everyone In, and Visiting Kuwait Will Have DNA Taken

Everyone entering Kuwait will have a DNA sample taken, either a saliva sample or a blood sample, at Kuwait International Airport.  Citizens will have samples taken either through mobile testing facilities, or during medical examinations.

Source:  Thinus Ferreira, “Kuwait to DNA test and tag all tourists,”, April 23, 2016:

Government Seeks Fingerprints to Unlock Phones

A California case has brought attention to the issue of compelled cooperation to unlock iPhones after a U.S. Magistrate Judge ordered a person – who had been convicted of identity theft and was the girlfriend of a suspected gang-member – to use the Touch ID app to unlock her phone.  Arguments were made that such an order violates the person’s Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination, for, unlike the mere taking of a fingerprint, the compelled use of a fingerprint to unlock a phone associates a person to the phone and authenticates the data contained within it.

Susan Brenner, a law professor at the University of Dayton, was quoted as saying, "It isn't about fingerprints and the biometric readers the contents of that phone, much of which will be about her, and a lot of that could be incriminating … By showing you opened the phone, you showed that you have control over it … It's the same as if she went home and pulled out paper documents — she's produced it."  However, some experts believe there is no legitimate Fifth Amendment issue.  For example, Albert Gidari, the director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, was quoted as saying, “Unlike disclosing passcodes, you are not compelled to speak or say what’s ‘in your mind’ to law enforcement … Put your finger here’ is not testimonial or self-incriminating.”

Sources:  Matt Hamilton and Richard Winton, “The government wants your fingerprint to unlock your phone.  Should that be allowed?”, April 30, 2016: /la-me-iphones-fingerprints-20160430-story.html .  Oscar Raymundo, “Why your iPhone-unlocking fingerprint is susceptible to FBI search warrants,”, May 2, 2016:

New Automobile Technology Can ‘Sniff’ Chemicals from A Distance

A new technology, called Membrane Inlet Mass Spectrometry (“MIMS”) and developed by researchers at the University of North Texas, “could give law enforcement an extra advantage in fighting illegal drugs, such as those developed in meth labs, and could also help resource managers monitor air and water quality,” according to a recent report.  The system was initially designed to test air-quality, but the developers found that MIMS was more sensitive than anticipated, and found that it could take and read samples from a quarter-mile distance.  The result is that MIMS can “pick up chemical signatures covertly, without raising suspicions.”  The test-vehicle, a ford Fusion Energi, was equipped with the system.  As the vehicle is driven the air-samples pass through a semi-permeable membrane, are analyzed with mass spectrometry, and the “real-time” results are displayed on a computer screen.  Dr. Guido Verbeck, the head of the research team, said, “The car could just drive by it and keep moving down the road … [and] It’ll alert the officers there’s something going on at the house, and where the location is.” The researchers have also developed a small, backpack-style unit.

Sources:  Tracy Staedter, “Drug-Sniffing Car Smells Chemicals a Quarter Mile Away,”, May 4, 2016:  Jason Allen, “University of North Texas Team Helps Develop Drug-Sniffing Car,”, May 2, 2016:

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor