Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Choicepoint Correction

In response to “Choicepoint Spins off Three Businesses,” Choicepoint spokesperson Matt Furman sent the following:

It is factually incorrect to describe ChoicePoint or its subsidiary,
Bode Technology Group, as attempting to “amass a DNA database.” Bode’s
clients are almost entirely government laboratories that are trying to
solve crimes and identify victims as well as felony offenders. The
samples provided to Bode for analysis are identified by a case number
and Bode’s work does not reveal information about race, hair or eye
color, national origin or medical conditions. DNA analysis is done
simply to develop a profile that can be used to determine if two people
are related or the sample matches a suspect. In no circumstance,
however, does Bode “own” any data, samples or any other material and
never maintains permanent custody of any sample.

The only centralized databases of DNA profiles are managed by the FBI
and its counterparts in the states, not by Bode. Bode is not now nor
has it ever been in the business of amassing DNA data and selling it
wholesale or otherwise to any government agency. Instead, the men and
women of Bode are responsible for making DNA-based identifications where
no one else has been able and bringing criminals to account for their

Matt actually sent that over two weeks ago, and I have a number of operational questions about it, such as: Is the data identified only by a case number? Could it be correlated with other data? Is the question of relation given as “sample A, sample B?” or is one sample named? What data does Bode retain after the sample is destroyed or returned? Presumably, there’s some data kept to enable Bode or its representatives to testify in court. However, I’m swamped with other things, and despite my interest in the questions, I don’t have a lot of time to pursue them.

However, I remain glad that “amassing a DNA database and selling the contents to the government is something even Choicepoint doesn’t expect will become profitable,” even if that was a mis-understanding of their plans.

One comment on "Choicepoint Correction"

  • gwen hastings says:

    Hi Adam,
    I dont believe that there is a need to keep samples once the current forms of DNA analysis is complete, my question is does the analysis=sequencing where Bode’s data is concerned?

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