But let's look at all that's missing in the article alongside of what's actually stated:
After re-reading the article on a bigger screen (namely one other than my iPod). it is poorly written and does not state specifically if off-duty police were in uniform, were using department equipment (police cars, cones, etc), or if the activities were even sanctioned by their police department.
Importantly, the article also doesn't state if identifying information (name, address, driver's license number, license plate number, etc) was collected along with survey samples or questions. Very importantly also IMO, the article does not identify the "Maryland-based contractor" so you can't find out anything about that company that is getting the sample and survey, at least not without additional research.
Taking a cheek swab and saliva sample is a complete DNA sampling and a lot more can be determined about you than mere alcohol blood level and drug use. An identified DNA sample falls under the definition of Personal Health Information (PHI) and there are very strict laws about correct use and misuse of PHI along with very severe penalties for misuse. But when you give away the PHI, those laws don't protect you at all.
So in sample participation each person is willingly giving away their entire genetic makeup to an unnamed company with no contract of use.
That, IMO, is pretty dang scary and if all the participants really knew the implications of what they were doing, I think there would be no participants.
At the very least, stopping motorists for a survey being conducted for non-police business is an abuse of authority and a breach of trust. At worst it is an illegal collection of identified genetic material that can be used for purposes unsanctioned and unknown by the individuals being sampled.
If I were one of the motorists, even without having read the article, I would not allow a DNA sample (because that is what it really is) and I would not answer the survey.
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