Ontario police kept DNA profiles illegally, migrant worker’s lawsuit alleges
Toronto Star talks to Jody Brown about our DNA class action against the province of Ontario
The Toronto Star has reported on Granger v. Ontario, a class action that was recently certified by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The class action alleges that the province has retained the profiles of innocent DNA donors who volunteered their samples in cooperation with a police investigation. This violates the Criminal Code, which explicitly requires the destruction of consent DNA profiles for innocent donors. The plaintiff will argue that the ongoing retention of the DNA profiles violates s. 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, as well as the common law right to privacy.
The Toronto Star spoke to Jody Brown about the case:
The case is the first class-action lawsuit certified in Ontario under the section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure by the state.
“It means that people who are subject to unlawful search or seizure, whether it is one person or 1,000 people, they can advance their case as a class action,” Granger’s lawyer, Jody Brown, told the Star.
“The uniqueness of this case is the potential size of it and it goes all the way back to 2000. The key part of this is about civil liberties.”
Brown said giving a DNA is one of the most “invasive” forms of search, and law enforcement can only ask a person to give consent if they are unable to get a warrant or secretly collect a sample.
“In this case, they crafted a generic consent form which tells people all the (DNA) results will be destroyed, but they do nothing,” said Brown, adding that the initial estimate of the qualified class members ranges from 10,000 to 25,000 people.
“Everyone was operating under the assumption that their profiles and DNA results had been destroyed if they were innocent and didn’t match with a crime,” said Brown. “Now this came to light and we initiated the litigation.”