I asked in April, 2003, about the future of law enforcement:

Will police be enabled to pressure everyone they come across into submitting to a DNA test or risk speculation that they are guilty? Or will everyone simply be required to submit DNA to a central database? How long until there are machines that scour the streets for dried spit, compare the DNA to the database, and then mail you a ticket? It might sound ridiculous, but I get the very strong impression that this is exactly the world that some people want to create.

And now, barely two years later, the UK is enveiling DNA kits to identify motorists who spit at parking attendants. Spitting at people is obviously bad, but c'mon.

Parking attendants are being given DNA swabs to help identify motorists who spit at them.

Saliva samples will be analysed in a laboratory and cross-checked against millions of DNA profiles on the police national computer. A match could bring prosecution for common assault.

Hundreds of the £1 "spit kits" are being handed out to the 250 attendants in Westminster this week in a trial backed by contractor NCP. The £200-a-time cost of the DNA checks will be met by the police.

But "met by the police" means that the money will be taken out of the budget that would normally go towards policing serious crimes -- and all police money comes from the taxpayers. I'm in favor of punishing spitters, even with jail time, and using these kits to catch people who spit at parking attendants might even be a good idea... but where will it stop? Robots that scour the streets for DNA and then email out tickets for littering?

Here's a blog run by a real-life traffic warden. No word about DNA tests, but I for one would never spit at this guy.

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