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Bioethics Group Raises DNA Database Concerns

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the but-nobody-is-concerned-about-rna dept.

Biotech 150

PieGuy107 writes "In its report, The Forensic Use of DNA and Fingerprints: Ethical Issues, the council recommends that police should only be allowed to permanently store bio-information from people who are convicted of a crime. Today, the police of England and Wales have wider sampling powers than the police force of any other country, and the UK has (proportionally, per head of population) the largest forensic database in the world. When the police first began using DNA, consent was required before samples could be taken. A succession of Acts of Parliament and legislative amendments has increased police powers of sampling; the police can now take DNA samples from all persons arrested, without their consent, for recordable offenses (an "arbitrary" classification), and retain the samples indefinitely regardless of whether the person arrested is subsequently convicted or even charged. In response to comments from the Home Office that retaining the DNA of people who were innocent at the time of arrest had helped to solve crimes they committed years later, the Nuffield Council stuck to its guns. "There has to be a limit to police powers," said Dr Carole McCartney, one of the report's authors. "DNA shouldn't be retained simply on the basis that it might turn out to be useful." She added that many of the statistics from the Home Office were "inconsistent, incomplete and confusing" and that much of its evidence consisted of anecdotal accounts of "horrible men caught with DNA"."

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150 comments

Zombies (5, Funny)

Gregb05 (754217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20668901)

I, for one, would be frightened if they caught a horrible man without DNA.

This playing God needs to stop! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20668975)

Messing with DNA and stem cells is playing God! Stop messing with God's work! It is evil! We MUST get rid of DNA because it is the product of evil science!

Arrr, me own me own essense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669993)

Me own me own essence.

If the scurvy dogs want to steal me helix, they'll need be a skirmish,
to prove who be a better pirate.

Arrr!!!

These are not fingerprints (5, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20668903)

If your cousin gets arrested and take his fingerprints, they have information on him. If they sample his DNA, they have information on you.

Re:These are not fingerprints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20668989)

That's true theoretically but not meaningfully.

Re:These are not fingerprints (3, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669123)

Ah, but, such a database would be helpful in the future, when it is feasible to sequence/synthesize someone's DNA, or just enough of it to 'plant' on a crime scene, just in case they don't have a suspect, or you really didn't leave enough there on the scene.

Not that anyone need be paranoid about the cops ever planting evidence.....

Re:These are not fingerprints (3, Interesting)

Reziac (43301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669433)

I had a related thought: Okay, so let's say a nifty new law is passed that forces the cops to discard your DNA *sample* after NN-long has passed.

This does nothing to limit *propagation* of your extremely portable DNA profile, which is nothing but a list of markers that looks like this:

      AA BB CC CE DJ etc.

Even if the cops purge their database as well as their sample cabinet, are you so sure that in the meantime, your profile (with all your associated personal info) hasn't migrated somewhere else?

Think of your DNA profile as a credit card that cannot be cancelled in the event of loss or misuse, and guard it accordingly.

Re:These are not fingerprints (3, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669697)

"Even if the cops purge their database as well as their sample cabinet, are you so sure that in the meantime, your profile (with all your associated personal info) hasn't migrated somewhere else?

Think of your DNA profile as a credit card that cannot be cancelled in the event of loss or misuse, and guard it accordingly."

I agree whole heartedly. There are states that gladly sell your drivers license information to private companies ( Acxiom [acxiom.com] for example). What would keep them from selling it like that information?

I'd certainly had for DNA of everyone to get out. The insurance companies alone would have a field day. You think it is hard now to get private insurance, if you have a pre-existing condition or something like high triglycerides? (I know about the latter one well), well, wait till they can pre-screen your DNA to find out what you might be afflicted with in the future.

And if your identity is stolen....or something bad is associated with your DNA profile....good luck getting that taken care of. Either people will be screwed for life (you can well change your DNA), or DNA will cease to be an important determining factor. The latter may happen, but, probably LONG after many people have their lives ruined. Talk about the ultimate biometric factor...

Re:These are not fingerprints (3, Insightful)

zuzulo (136299) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670031)

Hm, i wonder if anyone is making aerosol cans each filled with some (full or partial) DNA data from 100,000+ randomly selected folks. Then all you have to do as a paranoid nutter is fire off a few shots of this can anywhere you think you may be leaving DNA. ah, progress. Gotta love it.

Re:These are not fingerprints (3, Insightful)

Reziac (43301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670323)

That would probably be easy to make, too... just collect human waste from anywhere (grey water from public laundries would be a great source) and process it down to a suitable form.

I foresee yet another banned technology.....

Re:These are not fingerprints (1)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670723)

The insurance companies alone would have a field day. You think it is hard now to get private insurance, if you have a pre-existing condition or something like high triglycerides? (I know about the latter one well), well, wait till they can pre-screen your DNA to find out what you might be afflicted with in the future.
Hmm... while this is a likely possibility, it's solvable by way of public policies all the while retaining DNA databases. A government can simply determine that insurance companies cannot charge differently or refuse applications based on health conditions, past or future. For the insurance companies themselves this wouldn't mean diminished profits, as they'd simply charge a flat value from everyone that would include their profit in it as usual. For those who might be paying less due to having good health/genetics, yes, such a thing would be a sad state of affairs. But other than that, it works almost the same.

An example: I'm not sure whether what you call "insurance" is the same thing that here in Brazil we call "health accord". In any case, our health accords work like this: the health company cannot refuse someone with previous health problems; any new contract requires a 18 month entry period with less health services available to you, but afterwards you have full treatment, including for your previous health issues; prices are based solely on the level of service you want and your age, and adjusted based on a fixed table (which is part of the contract) plus inflation.

When this system was made into law many health companies couldn't adapt and went bankrupt. The remaining ones made their accountability fit, and nowadays I myself have a health accord with a pretty solid package of services, valid in my whole state, for as low as $60.00 US dollars per month. What changes from one package to the other is mostly geography and the amount of bureaucracy you have to surpass to get access to the most expensive treatments. Entry-level "teenagers, local-only, limited selection of hospital/doctors, have to get approval by fax for almost everything, new contract, standard 18-month wait" plans go for as low as $10.00/month, while "International, no questions asked, you chose any medic and hospital you wish anywhere in the world, helicopter and flight included, 60-years old age group, new contract, no 18-month wait" can go for as much as $1,000.00/month (if I remember correctly).

In all cases, your own health story, genetics, future treatment requirements etc. play no part in the price you pay. These variable are, by law, completely flatted, and what counts is their average for your age group.

Now, mind you: I'm a free market activist and in principle I should be against this kind of government interference in the business of private companies. But this is a case where I'm not so sure. Go figure. :-)

Re:These are not fingerprints (2, Funny)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670771)

The biological imperative states I must try and spread my DNA as wide and far as I can! I welcome the assistance of the police in this.The person who commits the most crimes in most different jurisdictions wins the great evolutionary race! Survival of the fittest!

Re:These are not fingerprints (2, Interesting)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669201)

That's true theoretically but not meaningfully.

Why not? [cbsnews.com] Even Lesley Stahl gets it.

But Stephen Mercer disagrees. "Of course they're gonna come up with analogies that seem to do away with any sense of wrongdoing or any sense of violation of privacy by the government. So, they say, 'Oh, well this is like a partial plate, and we're just following up on these leads....," he says.

"And what's wrong with that?" Stahl asks.

"Because it's not a partial plate. We're talking about DNA. DNA is different. DNA contains a vast amount of intensely personal information," Mercer says.

And he says there are serious racial implications, because since blacks are overrepresented in the prisons, and therefore in the DNA database, extending it to relatives would magnify the disparity.

"What you're gonna end up seeing is nearly the majority of the African American population being under genetic surveillance," Mercer says. "If you do the math, that's where you end up."

"Extremely specific question. You have a crime lab looking at DNA in a horrific crime. They get a partial match, a very close match, and the DNA expert suspects a brother. Should he withhold that information from the police, or should he tell the police, 'We think a brother did this?'" Stahl asks Mercer.

"If it comes from a database search?" Mercer asks.

"Yes," she replies.

"Then it should not be revealed," Mercer says.

"So, the DNA expert should just say, 'Sorry. No match.' And that's the end of it? And not pass this incredible clue along?" Stahl asks.

"That's correct," Mercer argues.

Mitch Morrissey says he has a big problem with that. "They have this information. And they're not telling the lead investigators? How do they justify that to the next victim of this serial rapist?" he asks.

Morrissey thinks the U.S. should do what the British are doing: they have developed a technique to scour their DNA database, deliberately searching for partial matches that might indicate a relative.

Re:These are not fingerprints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669383)

Actually, it'd be the
*brother
*father
or
*son

Regardless, it's still a suspect, and they'd still need to verify their suspicion. It's not like they are saying it is this person, they are saying it is someone related to this person genetically. And, in a situation like that, there would be records in several places of the DNA. It's not like they could falsify the test at that point.

Re:These are not fingerprints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669521)

so you have 4 brothers, your DNA is taken after an arrest for a minor traffic offence, a computer picks up that one of your brothers is probably the person that they're looking for in relation to X [heinous crime]. All four of your brothers are arrested and DNA samples taken, and the matcing one is found. Congratulations, you've just arrested and taken the DNA of 3 completely innocent people, knowing full well that; of the four that you arrested; three would be innocent. THAT is the problem. Innocent people get treated as primary suspects because they're related to a person whos DNA is similar to the person the police are looking for.

captcha: biology

Re:These are not fingerprints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669701)

I doubt they could hold all three as primary suspects, and innocent would be allowed to go free. Probably all would be allowed initially on bail.

Re:These are not fingerprints (2, Insightful)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669101)

Not exactly. Given that each person's DNA is derived from both of their parents' sets, as well as the introduction of , the amount of mutual information between your DNA and any relative becomes drastically small. [utah.edu]

Re:These are not fingerprints (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669279)

Aargh. I hit the wrong button (submit instead of preview).

That should be:

as well as the introduction of random mutation

Re:These are not fingerprints (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669355)

Not Exactly again. DNA profiles are *NOT* of your full genetic makeup, but rather of only a very small sample thereof. Frex, the standard DNA-ID profile for dogs presently only looks at 20 pairs of markers (recently upped from the previous standard of 13 pairs of markers). If you have a closely-related population (not unlikely in a village-bound culture), it's quite possible to have duplicates within the limited number of markers that make up the standard profile.

Re:These are not fingerprints (2, Informative)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669371)

Given that each person's DNA is derived from both of their parents' sets, as well as the introduction of , the amount of mutual information between your DNA and any relative becomes drastically small.

50% for siblings, 25% for first cousins.

As for your link, point mutations usually don't affect the DNA techniques police use because they don't change the lengths of segments cut by restriction enzymes. The other types of mutations are usually more fatal, more rare, and don't really interfere with police work anyway.

Re:These are not fingerprints (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669385)

If your cousin gets arrested and take his fingerprints, they have information on him. If they sample his DNA, they have information on you.
It depends on how they analyze the DNA, if they use a 13 marker system then if at least 7 of them match then you are likely to be related and vice versa, so really even if they do arrest your cousin, they likely only have half the picture unless they do a full analysis of the DNA, in which case if the DNA matches your cousin, they'll know more than enough to exclude you because of the various genetic recombination/crossover that goes on when the two gametes fused that later developed into you.

Re:These are not fingerprints (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669417)

Yeah and its not like they would put a RFID number in you with a cross-ref to a DNA database or something that Joe Trooper could scan on the street...

Re:These are not fingerprints (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669841)

Re:These are not fingerprints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669979)

That's only slightly true. You can only get a DNA profile from somebody via their cousin if they are from Norfolk, and then only if that person has recently slept with them.

Statute of Limitations (4, Interesting)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20668929)

How about storing the DNA for the length of time equal to the statute of limitations for the crime they are being charged with? If they are not formally charged, then a two- to three- year period seems fair.

Re:Statute of Limitations (4, Funny)

locokamil (850008) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669071)

I'm sorry, but that idea makes far too much sense for it to be seriously considered by lawmakers (or slashdot, for that matter).

Re:Statute of Limitations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669209)

How about storing the DNA for the length of time equal to the statute of limitations for the crime they are being charged with?

There is no limitation on bringing a criminal prosecution in England and Wales, so that wouldn't work here.

Re:Statute of Limitations (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669477)

The current statute of limitations [emplaw.co.uk] would generally restrict this to less than 15 years (and, for the majority of crimes, less than 6 years), though there are undoubtedly exceptions (i.e., treason).

Sounds kinda like some other protections (3, Insightful)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20668951)

"DNA shouldn't be retained simply on the basis that it might turn out to be useful."
Yes, in the same way that random searches and seizures shouldn't be performed simply on the basis they evidence of a crime might turn up. I thought it was a well-established and accepted idea that a fishing expedition is a Bad Thing.

Re:Sounds kinda like some other protections (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669165)

> > "DNA shouldn't be retained simply on the basis that it might turn out to be useful."
>
> Yes, in the same way that random searches and seizures shouldn't be performed simply on the basis they evidence of a crime might turn up. I thought it was a well-established and accepted idea that a fishing expedition is a Bad Thing.

"Wot's all this, then? Why d'ye hate Norsefire?"

Re:Sounds kinda like some other protections (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669243)

That's one of the problems with taking DNA samples for "might and maybe" reasons. It establishes a precedent that fishing expeditions are perfectly acceptable.

I predict police will adopt the recommendation, (2, Insightful)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20668959)

and subsequently lawmakers will make it a crime to refuse to "donate" your DNA to the police database. Problem solved.

Re:I predict police will adopt the recommendation, (2, Insightful)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669073)

and subsequently lawmakers will make it a crime to refuse to "donate" your DNA to the police database. Problem solved.
No. They'll make it a crime for everyone but them.

And what happens... (5, Insightful)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 6 years ago | (#20668969)

...if one of these DNA databases gets hacked??? What if a criminal's DNA entry gets transposed with that of someone else??? I mean it's not like government agencies are known for securing their networks very well [truthout.org] ...

Re:And what happens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669947)

I believe you carry a copy of the information around with you for them to check against...

Re:And what happens... (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670259)

True... But in the mean time, you have been charged, your name has been smeared in the media, you're sitting in a jail cell, you may have lost your job, and will have to spend thousands hiring a lawyer, a DNA testing lab, etc. You now need to prove your innocence.

Sure, you can sue everyone under the sun, but good luck getting your false entry removed from the "DNA database". (Think of the US citizens who are suing the US Gov't over false entries in the "no fly list").

To add, some countries (i.e. Canada) now will not let you in if you've ever been arrested !

Re:And what happens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20670785)

Yeah, something similar happened in an episode of the UK comedy "Two pints [that's a litre or so in Euro money] of Lager and a Packet of Crisps" when Louise decided to "crack" Johnny's criminal record and "spiced it up" to make it look really, really bad when she was a temporary worker with access to and the ability to edit / update the criminal records of her mates.

Plot spoiler follows so turn away now should you wish:

Cue large numbers of police marksmen + support helicopter turning up to execute their "shoot to kill to protect" orders, and shoot Johnny. Perhaps he only survived because he was a main character in the show.

Sadly, life imitates art - at least if you're a Brazilian tourist called Jean Charles de Menezes dodging tube fares (or not) which carries the penalty of being shot in the head eight times without warning apparently. Bizarrely, the same Judge Dread-alike officer who carried this out was not only not charged, but re-instated to firearms duty and even managed to kill another innocent citizen afterwards in a similiar manner IIRC.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Charles_de_Menezes [wikipedia.org] for more details.

Luckily here in the UK we're supposedly something called a democracy (not to be confused with a police state) and the police are getting their bottie's smacked for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act for allegedly "failing to provide for the health, safety and welfare of Jean Charles de Menezes" [by shooting him in the head eight times].

So, that's alright then I guess.

Back to WoW for me.

They can try (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20668995)

> police can now take DNA samples from all persons arrested, without their consent

This is only partly true, it has never so far as I'm aware been challenged. I've not been arrested since I was a youth but there's no way I'd consent. If the police chose to assault me in order to take a DNA sample, I'd see them in court. If they chose to pursue their "right" to take a persons DNA without consent through the courts, they'd likely lose.

That's because you have a 4th Amendment (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670085)

TFA talks about England and Wales, not the United States, which is where I presume you live from the way you assert that a court "test" is relevant.

In the United States, but generally not elsewhere, you have a Fourth Amendment protecting you against "unreasonable" searches, and so while state legislatures are free to pass laws allowing the police to take your DNA against your will, you're right that the Supreme Court would have to agree such a law does not transgress the Fourth Amendment. Which is not likely for such a vague purpose as "might be useful if you commit a crime later."

However, I think you're totally wrong about the assault (non)issue. Don't you think if J. Random Citizen slapped the cuffs on you, shoved you into the backseat of a car without working door handles, put you in a cell, fingerprinted and photographed you, et cetera, they would be guilty of not only assault, but felony battery, kidnapping, et cetera and so forth? Sticking a needle into you and drawing some blood wouldn't add much to the list of crimes.

When you're in the custody of the police, they're allowed to interfere with your person in all kinds of ways ordinarily forbidden by assault and battery laws, so long as it's directly related to their job. They can restrain you if you resist, beat you with a stick if you fight, and kill you with the weapon of their choice if they reasonably think you're dangerous and there's no other way to stop you.

If taking your DNA is constitutional, which it almost certainly is, if there is reasonable cause to think you've committed a crime in which the DNA evidence is important, and not otherwise, then I think they can certainly take it by force, and your civil suit asserting the contrary would not even be heard by a jury, but tossed by the judge immediately as contrary to the principle of limited official immunity. If you really want to get anywhere, you need to raise the issue of whether it is constitutional to take your DNA in the first place, not whether it's constitutional to take it by force if you refuse.

They'll try that here in the US Soon (4, Insightful)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669015)

Only here, it will be needed for all school children. They'll have to have their DNA recorded before they're allowed to enter the public school system.

It will be touted as "This is to help protect children from being kidnapped by a non-custodial parent or, God forbid, to identify a child if they have been killed.

Then if every child grows up with this being the "norm" what happens ?

What Happens? (3, Insightful)

Veetox (931340) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669127)

Maybe we really just need to take a broader approach: EVERYONE gets their DNA mapped and EVERYONE's DNA is made public. We should know just as much about government personel as they do about us. It's possible, and, I suppose, likely, that the information could be used for segregational purposes, but I think we should just bite the bullet and find a good way to render the information constitutionally now, instead of waiting for problems to show up. Bottom line: We're not going to be able to keep our DNA code a personal secret forever - just look what's happening to SS#'s.

Re:What Happens? (1)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669463)

high ranking government officials & the super rich would never appear on such a database. just like they dont here in the uk, even if they get arrested.

Re:What Happens? (1)

Veetox (931340) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669759)

I deeply sympathize. However, last time shit like that went down for you guys (ie. English), you started a new country. It seemed you wanted better representation. Unfortunately, people who don't get represented need to work harder and endure more pain to get their point accross, so we might as well get started.

Re:They'll try that here in the US Soon (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669303)

"Then if every child grows up with this being the "norm" what happens ?"

There are prehistorical documentaries. Look for "V is for Vendetta", "The Sheep Look Up, "Minority Report",
"THX 1138", "Fahrenheit 451" and "1984". When I read or saw all of these for the first time, little did I realize that they were written by people who were actually peering in to the future.

One has to wonder what happens if there is in fact a "gay gene" or a genetic predisposition to crime and disobedience.

Re:They'll try that here in the US Soon (2, Interesting)

demachina (71715) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669365)

As proof that Brunner, author of "The Sheep Look Up", "Shockwave Rider" and "Stand on Zanzibar" is in fact psychic or actually has a time machine is this classic quote from The Sheep, which is scary prescient:

"I'm referring specifically to apparently normal children, without obvious physical or mental defects. I'm convinced people are subconsciously aware of what's going on, and becoming alarmed by it. For example, there's an ingrained distrust in our society of highly intelligent, highly trained, highly competent persons. One need only to look at the last presidential election for proof of that. The public obviously wanted a figurehead who'd look good and make comforting noises"

Re:They'll try that here in the US Soon (3, Interesting)

chihowa (366380) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669437)

I know that there's not much love for it floating around, but it's odd that you didn't mention "Gattaca", which is wholly and specifically about this particular topic. It's taken a step further with genetic engineering of the new births, but the ubiquitous DNA database and fast sequencing aspects are tackled (as well as any Hollywood movie will tackle them).

Re:They'll try that here in the US Soon (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669489)

One has to wonder what happens if there is in fact a "gay gene" or a genetic predisposition to crime and disobedience.
One of the things that separates a human from an animal is the ability not to act on instinct/genetic influences. A genetic disposition wouldn't necessarily mean someone would act out in a certain way if raised properly.

Society and culture in general has told us what is acceptable and what is not. Committing a violent murder is not acceptable, being gay is somewhat accepted now but wasn't always. The Gene if any behind that isn't looked at when creating the criteria if it should be allowed. Humans over history have shown their ability to suppress these genes is present and the knowledge of them should be completely secrete and never found out.

You wouldn't want something genetically removed by a forced abortion or immediate imprisonment when it is discovered you have the gene or are about to pass it on. The Idea of a Utopia is too dangerous for man to know of these things. History has shown the idea of the perfect place with the perfect people to be a bad thing. I suggest you just keep wondering and hope we never know about them. Especially with genetic databases where people could be singled out as soon as it becomes popular to kill off bad behavior before it happens.

Re:They'll try that here in the US Soon (2, Insightful)

ashtophoenix (929197) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669619)

I agree. This is a very serious issue. Wonder what can be done to stop things from getting to that point (the point where genetic predisposition for a crime is used to search through the db to identify potential criminals). Any ideas?

Re:They'll try that here in the US Soon (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669537)

Classy work there 'fear mongerer' and typical liberal conspiray theorist thoughts modded to +5 insightful; only on slashdot.

Re:They'll try that here in the US Soon (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20670293)

This is the natural course of every government: slow but steady expansion of power and revenue over time. History has taught this lesson over and over but still we ignore it, choosing instead to put our blind trust in centralized power, as if somehow this time it will work. Some governments expand more quickly than others, but all governments only get bigger over their lifetimes, never smaller. This is a very important point to consider, ANY time you are evaluating the actions of government.

It's not because "the people" want this, and it's not because "the people" don't care -- let's put down the ideology for a second and take a peek at reality. It's because the power elite -- those in the business of government -- want this. More revenue, more control, more marketshare -- what central planner doesn't want that?

Naturally, as goverment grows bigger and bigger each year -- measured both in revenue per population and power over the people -- there has to come a point where this kind of thing (mass surveillence, mass spying and record-keeping of private lives) becomes reality. It has to. How can they continue the expansion of government without these things? These programs won't just bring in more revenue and power to government today -- they will set a precedent for future expansions of revenue and power.

No government in history has ever significantly and permanently reduced its power or revenue through the process of democracy. There's a reason for that, and it's not apathy, or laziness, or blind obedience, or whatever other bury-my-head-in-the-sand excuse we can come up with -- it's because making government bigger equals more profit for those in the business of government. It always has.

So what is the solution? I don't know if there is one, besides moving to a country where the ruling government isn't quite as far along down its inevitable path to totalitarianism. Hell, even the United States, which was originally founded on the principle of strict limits on government power, couldn't keep government under control.

Perhaps emigration really is the only answer; that is, if you can still get out.

Standard Should Be The Same (2, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669031)

I'd say the standard should be the same as all evidence. Are they allowed to keep your mug-shot forever (yes, as far as I know). If they take a handwriting sample and you are not convicted, are they allowed to keep that? The standard should be the same for DNA. They certainly get to keep your fingerprints right?

If they request and get it during the course of an investigation I think they should get to keep it. I see no reason why they shouldn't.

If they start abusing this (arresting people on provably fake charges and such) just to get DNA, they you can do a civil suit. The judge will make 'em toss it and the millions they'll have to shell out every time will help keep them honest.

But if you are at a murder scene and have knife scratches on you, the police should get to keep your DNA if they use it to rule you in or out, just like they get to keep pictures of you.

Now if you want to make it so they can keep the DNA but it can't be admitted to court (so they couldn't convict you on that alone) then I would be fine with that. That's probably a good idea, in fact.

Re:Standard Should Be The Same (3, Insightful)

locofungus (179280) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669469)

The problem comes about because the police don't have a clue.

Consider the scenario. You are arrested for a crime you didn't commit. Fortunately, despite the police trying to pin it on you, the real culprit confesses and you are released without a stain on your character.

Then a little while later you are arrested again because your fingerprints (which were only stored because you were incorrectly arrested before) are found on some recovered stolen mail. The only problem being that you were the _VICTIM_ of the theft. Yes! Your fingerprints were on the mail because you _POSTED_ it!

No attempt by the police to investigate. Finger print match. Call the person in to the station. Arrest them immediately. And then tell them to accept a caution to get it over with!

Think it's a tall story?

http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/ViewArticle.aspx?SectionID=62&ArticleID=1361138 [blackpoolgazette.co.uk]

Tim.

Summary (1)

Supergood-ape (959376) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670133)

"Someone was arrested, investigated, and when the police realized they made a mistake, released. An individual was overzealous in his assumption of guilt."

What's novel about this?

Re:Standard Should Be The Same (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669673)

If they keep this evidence forever, what is to stop them from using it outside law enforcement when you are the lawbreaker?

what if in 2 years, we discover that certain people have a genetically disposition to a disease and it is cheaper to execute them now then to burden a public health system years down the road? What is they can tell if you are going to be gay at any time of your life and gas you in your sleep or make you the prime suspect of a serial murder in order to get you executed? What is to say nothing like this wouldn't happen?

If you say the law, then maybe we should think about who makes the laws. It would be the same people controlling the DNA samples. And what would happen when your kids are executed because you committed crimes and it was determined that you had a genetic disposition for those crimes? OR what if your lover was imprisoned because they were about to birth someone who would be susceptible to committing crime and it is easier to just lock you up instead of letting you commit the crime first then finding you?

Or how about even worse, your unborn child is tested and you have to abort them if either you or your unborn child might possess a gene that isn't desirable. The problem isn't what it is being used for today, but what it might be used for tomorrow. And if the last 20 years have shown anything, it should be how easy it is to go from one end of the political spectrum to another. How about forced abortions of al democrats to end their plague on society??

It isn't a wise idea to keep the information forever. The question is how long.

Re:Standard Should Be The Same (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669723)

Are they allowed to keep your mug-shot forever (yes, as far as I know).
Allowed? Yes. Do they? No - they shred everything after a few years.
I was recently on a jury prosecuting a guy for an alleged crime committed 20 years ago. One of the strangest things was that the police had investigated the exact same crime before, decided not to prosecute, then shredded all the evidence after 7 years which seems to be the rule. When they changed their minds they had to start over. This severely disadvantaged the defense because all the physical evidence had gone and it was just, "Who do you believe about these largely-forgotten events?"

Convicted? (2, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669033)

Comrades, you need only be detained for questioning to have your DNA permanently on record.

They're going to end up just taking it a birth or while kids are in school or at hospitals. Unless there are explicit laws disallowing all evidence obtained though knowledge of such surreptitiously obtained DNA, the government will have a free hand to gather any information it wants. Without such laws, judges will cave in the face of teary eyed victims and media pressure, and if you so much as left a hair in a public place ten years ao, the police will be allowed to gather that and add you to their lists.

In case you think there's nothing wrong with this, answer me this. How many wealthy and powerful people do you think have their DNA, or will ever have their DNA, in a government database?

Re:Convicted? (1)

Sigismundo (192183) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669647)

How many wealthy and powerful people do you think have their DNA, or will ever have their DNA, in a government database?


Government officials who need security clearance to do their jobs? I don't know what the exact process is to get security clearance today (are fingerprints required?) but it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility. I agree with your point though.

Re:Convicted? (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670151)

I had mine sampled and added to a database when I joined the Marines. Refusal meant I'd have faced a court-martial. I believe all branches do add to the same database. Voluntary service, obviously, but I wonder if that practice would be held to if the draft were ever reinstituted.

Fingerprints are required to obtain a license to carry a handgun in the relatively free state of Indiana. I imagine they are in just about every other, and in the states where a license is required for any sort of firearm ownership (Illinois' FOID, for instance).

One could consider this an infringement of rights protected by the Second Amendment, but that is one of the least favorite of many of those who make the rules.

Re:Convicted? (2, Funny)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669861)

How many wealthy and powerful people do you think have their DNA, or will ever have their DNA, in a government database?
How many notorious crimes involve weathly and powerful people? Going back to the disapearance of the Lindberg baby, 75% perhaps?
Given this, I'd say that we need to record the DNA of anyone famous enough to be mentioned several times in the newspapers, and at least twice on TV news. It's for their own safety, really. (:-)

DNA samples, profiles, and families (2, Interesting)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669053)

Like the other poster who notes that DNA information categorizes families, I have SOME concerns about the legality and potential abuse of DNA samples for those not convicted of a crime.

The question of usefulness does come into play, however -- and realize that in what I am about to say, I'm not a DNA expert so I welcome further commentary from those who are. If a sibling of mine were to be the person that is guilty of a "horrible" crime, and for whatever reason my DNA profile is on record (say for a security clearance type position, etc.), would my profile be useful to the police in finding that sibling? And at what level does this come into play? If the sibling is guilty of nothing but being nearby a scene and there is DNA, or the so-called crime doesn't really rise to the level of "horrible", shouldn't my anonymity and the siblings anonymity be guaranteed up to a point?MP> What do you think?

Re:DNA samples, profiles, and families (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669399)

In the UK there have already been successful prosecutions of murder cases where individuals who were identified by having a relative on the DNA database. Mind, they (nor their relatives) were convicted because of this, the DNA evidence was used to identify a suspect and then additional evidence could be gathered, assessed and tried, see http://media.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4908 [newscientist.com] . DNA evidence does not establish guilt, there could be any number of reasons why DNA could be found.

This is nothing new (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670499)

Come on, family and social connections have been exploited from the beginning of crime and policing. If your brother is murdered, the cops are sure going to come around and talk to you and your sister, find out if there was any bad blood between you. If you're wife is killed, you better be in the next state at the time of death addressing a crowd of thousands if you don't want to be Suspect #1. Similarly, if your brother commits a crime, the police will come around and interrogate you, find out if you helped him, find out if you know where he's hiding.

Frankly, DNA evidence is a lot safer for the innocent than what usually passes for "evidence" in criminal investigation and trials, which is mostly the testimony of witnesses with grudges and agendas, faulty (or artfully reconstructed) memories, and other assorted fallible stuff.

What people don't often realize is that it's not a choice between the police using DNA evidence and the police doing without evidence at all. It's a choice between the law using DNA evidence and the law using shiftier, much more ambiguous evidence, like whether the victim picks you out of a line-up, or whether the jury thinks you look like a criminal and thinks you had a good motive. DNA evidence has generally proven to be the innocent defendant's friend. Just think about the Duke (non)rape case, for example. If it had happened twenty years ago, without DNA evidence, the defendants would now be rotting in jail for life. As it is, they're free men, and the "eyewitness" testimony of the accuser is widely believed to have been simply invented.

I wish it were only possible to convict someone with DNA evidence, and that it was collected from everybody pretty much as a matter of course. The remote fanciful possibility of some evil secret police of the future abusing the data someday worries me less than the possibility, in the here and now, of being wrongly convicted for a crime because I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or I look too much like someone else, or some telegenic "victim" (pretty white woman, distinguished US Senator with a wide stance, wealthy city councilman) with a grudge, hankering to be famous, or need for an excuse for their own crimes makes a false accusation. Brr.

What about the children of the database (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669059)

They only need to get a snapshot of everyone in a given population. Then when the children of anyone whose DNA is in the database are involved in a crime, they can trace them through their parents/grandparents/greatgrandparents/...

Re:What about the children of the database (1)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669283)

That assumes a closed system doesn't it?
People DO emigrate and immigrate from the UK, and their genes wouldn't be on the record anymore in theory. Plus mutations happen, only half the genes get passed on / kid, etc...

Besides, I thought that DNA was supposed to be good at proving someone didn't commit the crime, not finding who did? :/ Or am I totally off-base with that?

Re:What about the children of the database (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669413)

People DO emigrate and immigrate from the UK

Genes can even emigrate and immigrate without their donors . . .

Re:What about the children of the database (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669737)

I thought that DNA was supposed to be good at proving someone didn't commit the crime, not finding who did? :/ Or am I totally off-base with that?
That's oldschool DNA forensics. They are starting to be able to match offspring and brothers to DNA on file. It's not to the point where they can do a complete genome of everyone in the database, but as long as they keep the actual samples on ice, that's alway a future possibility.

You're right that if a person's parentage was completely outside the population, they'd temporarily be invisible, but as the DNA analysis gets better, faster, and cheaper, the police will be able to go up and down family trees. Mutations are such a little change in any one person's DNA, I don't think that will prevent a match, it might even help to narrow things down. i.e. if only .00001% of the population has a mutation found on a piece of DNA, the police could question everyone who carried that mutation.

Whatever your concerns... (4, Insightful)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669079)

...the vast majority of the British public won't give a shit.

On the one hand, they're spoonfed endless pseudo-forensic schpiel that give the (false) impression of DNA being nigh-infallible. On the other hand, they're stuffed full of political propaganda telling us how DNA sampling will make $random_crime a thing of the past, how it'll mean that "paedophiles can no longer pretend to be teachers!" and on the third, weirdly mutant hand (broken index in the DNA database I think), years of being taught not to think critically and not to question authority (gubmint knows best!). All you need to do to pass a draconian law is to fawn to the Daily Mail-reading "Middle England" about paedophiles and illegal immigrants (is it rascist to say the Brits are sterotypically xeonphobic? That was certainly my impression growing up) and all of a sudden people can't vote for you quickly enough.

Disclaimer: yes, I am a British citizen. I don't believe the majority of our public could stand up to a wet paper bag. I would love to be proved wrong. UK is in a race to be the first "democratic" police state, who wants to join us and finish second?

Re:Whatever your concerns... (0, Troll)

stevesh6 (1018130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669375)

That whirring sound you hear is Winston Churchill spinning in his grave... You Brits gave up your guns without a peep of protest, allowed your government to blanket the country with surveillance cameras, and now permit your DNA to be taken and stored without a warrant. Hard to believe we (US) as a nation descended from this sorry herd of sheeple.

Don't break your arm (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670183)

Don't break your arm patting yourself on your back. The majority of US citizens are just as apathetic. However, we do have a higher percentage, IMO, of people who aren't apathetic. My point is, we obviously still have the same genes as our "parents", they're just in a slightly different proportion.

Re:Whatever your concerns... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669405)

South east England is pretty fucking xenophobic too.

Re:Whatever your concerns... (2, Interesting)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669905)

UK is in a race to be the first "democratic" police state, who wants to join us and finish second?

It certainly seems that way doesn't it? For everything the Americans do that scream totalitarianism, you Brits have done one better. I'm just glad I live in Canada, where we receive everything at least a decade after you Brits and Americans (that goes for consumer electronics AND police states).

WontSomebodyPleaseThinkOfTheConstables? (3, Funny)

ZuluZero (1159015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669115)

Imagine the added weight of all that random DNA collection gear that police will have to carry all day. And DNA collection can be a messy business. Can't we all put our minds together to combine say, a Taser / DNA Extractomatic?

Re:WontSomebodyPleaseThinkOfTheConstables? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669881)

Imagine the added weight of all that random DNA collection gear that police will have to carry all day.

That's why we need more cute, female cops. All they would have to carry around is a bottle of hand lotion and some Dixie cups. Then they could have all the DNA they want.

What data? (1)

confusednoise (596236) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669145)

Anyone know what kind of data they actually store in this kind of db? Full genomic sequencing of individuals on such a wide scale is not practical at this point so I'm assuming it's some kind of genetic marker or SNP assay?

Re:What data? (1)

JohnLowHanger (1042630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669435)

SHA-1 hash of the entire sequence. With a DRM layer to protect the pharmaceutical companies intellectual property 'cos, unlike heading toward a Police State at 100 miles per hour, SHA-1 just isn't collision-proof.

Arr! (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669197)

"Avast! It cannot be Medium John Silver's DNA on that XBox 360 Special Monkey Island Edition!"

"Sir, it matches the database."

"Yarr. Caught red handed."

Sampling (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669255)

I for one welcome The Police's new electro album!

It is like finger prints... (1)

jordandeamattson (261036) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669291)

While some will dispute it (if my cousin is arrested, and you take his finger prints, you have him; if you take his DNA, you have me), the reality is that DNA is analogous to finger prints.

The issue isn't controlling the collection of DNA, I would be fine with it being collected as are finger prints as a standard and more precise identifier of individuals, but rather access to and the uses to which the information can be put.

If - and this is the big if - you required that a DNA match (vs. DNA collection) be tied to a warrant involving a crime, then you would have a comfortable balance between 4th Amendment Rights and appropriate Police Powers.

If you hold that collection of DNA requires a Court Order, then you need to face the logical conclusion that the same should apply to finger prints.

My concern with the DNA data bank is that someone - say my insurance company - will access it for non-Police purposes without my consent. I don't have a problem with the Police accessing it under the authority of a Court Order. If we had such a data bank, it would short circuit the spurious paternity claims which we have seen as of late, because we could require that a paternity claim require a DNA match to be validated vs. the under oath claim of the mother (or father).

As David Brin said, "Privacy is dead, get over it!" I think our focus should be on creating the appropriate zones of privacy which we control. We will do this best on the access vs. collection end. The data will be collected. Let's ensure that it is collected accurately and that access is protected.

Yours,

Jordan

Re:It is like finger prints... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669665)

The issue isn't controlling the collection of DNA, I would be fine with it being collected as are finger prints as a standard and more precise identifier of individuals, but rather access to and the uses to which the information can be put.

The problem isn't controlling or creating or anything, the problem is that the collection will, by definition, be misused. Let's look at it from the US perspective: It is not possible to use a collection of every person's DNA to match a specific suspect without taking decades to perform 300 million individual comparisons.

Instead, what would happen is that rather than storing 300 million cheek swabs or bodily fluid samples or whatever, specific marker genes would be analyzed by molecules that bind to specific known gene sequences. Either the gene is there and the molecule binds to it, or it is not. Repeat this for 20 different genes (an extremely generous count, paternity tests use 6-10, modern forensic techniques used to compare a specific suspect's sample use 12-16), and you have 2^20 (about a million) different possible combinations for presence or absence of those genes. Unless there's a major change in DNA testing to accompany this major change in DNA collection (or the human genome project turns up at least 10 more independent genes with even distribution across the US population), there will be a large number of duplicates in their database.

Immediate Gratification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669295)

In these modern times, people seem to lack the long range perspective needed to see consequences of eliminating basic privacy rights. Keeping an innocent person's DNA might sound like a wonderful idea when it catches a molester, rapist, or murderer. In time though, allowing the erosion of fundamental rights opens the doors to the Hitlers, Mussolinis, and Napoleons of the world. When figures like these come into power entire cultures and people are destroyed.

While I know that if I were a parent whose child was killed and/or molested and a DNA record from a formerly innocent person was used to catch the culprit, I might not be able to reject that information. Society must make that choice for me. Society must maintain a long range perspective no matter how tempting the immediate gratification of catching a criminal may be. To act in any other way is to abandon the future for the present. It is to agree to genocide, mass oppression, and hopelessness.

Information Structures. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669335)

Orwell foresaw a future where global information systems would be used for the express purpose of oppressing a populace. Luckily for us the Internet turned out to be decentralized and therefore curtailed many of the possible abuses he feared. The application of databases is one of the challenges of our time. The best solution probably won't be one of the binary choices of allow or forbid but rather the best position will probably be between these two poles. There is no denying that biometric and DNA data in specific is a major advance for the ability of law-enforcement to solve crimes. However, in the rush to develop systems to handle the information, checks and balances are often not being considered or implemented. I believe ordering agencies should have modern tools to solve otherwise insolvable crimes but at the same time the wider social balances must be observed. Retention limits of and proper procedures to allow access to police databases I believe will be the primary issues in the immediate future. The process of defining the policies that will govern future databases should also receive widespread public scrutiny and feedback as well. Nobody has a golden-arrow to solve these issues at this time and as usual when the answer is not obvious as a society we will probably have to develop our policies in a reactive manner as situations educate us along the way.

Call Me When You Need Me (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669369)

Every time a government agency either reads, writes or transmits any personal info on me, I want to be notified. Since it probably happens all the time, I'd settle for a monthly email notifying me of the total number of reads/writes/transmissions, with the URL of my transaction history. The history should be sortable by at least agency, case ID, type of record, and time. And of course the records should be confidential, and never sharable to private contractors without my explicit permission, even for government "outsourcing".

Since some of these transactions will be necessarily secret, those should not be included in the default report. But those should be the minimum necessary, and each secret transaction should be covered by at least a court order, ordered by a judge on evidence with accountability.

And auditability. Which is the missing link in all the government data collection and sharing, even in the EU which is generations ahead of the US.

GATTACA, anyone? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669423)

See title.

And they say America is Big Brother (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669511)

I'd hate to go overseas and have some customs agent in Heathrow decide to take DNA, just how far off is that?

One step closer (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669587)

One step closer to the US adopting something similar to the Icelandic Medical Database.

You FAIL 1t? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669589)

hot on 7he heels of

later crimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20669655)

ftfa:

... retaining the DNA of people who were innocent at the time of arrest had helped to solve crimes they committed years later...

Has anyone done any research to show a connection between people who have been falsely accused and arrested, and then later committing crime? Not to poison the well, but could the psychological trauma of the arrest cause latent anger, "acting out", etc??? I don't know any right now, but I've known some people, fairly well, who were falsely accused and even in some cases had to pay civil penalties & probation for things they didn't do. Don't forget- our "legal" system is NOT based on truth, but is based on $ and how you play their game. Anyway, those falsely arrested people seem to carry some deep, too-quiet anger.

Re:later crimes (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669801)

but could the psychological trauma of the arrest cause latent anger, "acting out", etc???

You could just as easily say that innocent people who got arrested were probably hanging around with the wrong crowd and were heading that way anyway.

Re:later crimes (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670845)

Really? I thought it was based on drumming up as many rediculous felony charges as you can to

1) raise the bail price
2) scare the defendant into a plea-bargain
3) show the sheeple you have zero tolerance (for anyone without money,influence or power)

Listen Mayberry, Andy Griffith is retired. Please give a warm welcome to our town sheriff Vick Mackey.

Don't forget- our "legal" system is NOT based on truth, but is based on $ and how you play their game. Anyway, those falsely arrested people seem to carry some deep, too-quiet anger.

Whatever happened to good old police work? (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20669777)

Crimes can't be so sophisticated of late that we need all this DNA sequencing of every boy and child in order to solve crimes. Admittedly it can help... but why not in the case of: 1) Crime scene, collect DNA 2) Draw up possible suspects 3) Match DNA 4) Rinse 'n' repeat I'd like to know what % of crimes are unsolved or the innocent are mislabeled guilty. It's probably very few out of the total amount of crimes. I feel DNA logs of citizens (because you know where this is heading) is a privacy concern and is subject to a Statute of Limitations.

Re:Whatever happened to good old police work? (1)

Bazar (778572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670111)

And what if there are no suspects?
what if you have this piece of DNA that you strongly suspect is the culprits, but since you only have the DNA of convicted crimials, your not going to be able to find anything..

Also if your against a national DNA database, then your probably of the opinion that DNA is a personal thing, and can only be collected with your consent. How many criminals are going to consent to giving DNA if they think that will help them solve their crime.

Having a national database would solve both problems, without invading the privacy of their citizens.

Re:Whatever happened to good old police work? (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670645)

Yes, I am of the opinion that my DNA is a personal thing. Why should it be in a database if I have done nothing wrong? Start sequencing people who have committed crimes yes, people who are suspects in crimes (suspects through classical methods of police work) yes. But if I go into the police station to report my stolen bicycle, I don't want them to stick a needle in my arm "just in case" I turn out to be a bike thief 10 years down the track.

It all comes back to the question, "Why do you care if you have nothing to hide?" I find. Why do presumably innocent people care if they are on CCTV if they are not committing a crime. But I am fundamentally against this logic. I have read far to many stories preaching on the dangers of a omniscient government and letting "minor" infringements of privacy slide. I just don't like it.

Whats the big deal (1)

Bazar (778572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670025)

Explain to me why the police having your DNA is a bad thing?

Will they be able to keep track of where you are? No
Will they be able to know what you've done? No (unless you have actually been involved in a crime)
Can the information of your DNA be used to harm you? Not if its used ONLY for DNA matching against crime scenes, and kept strictly confidential

Its not like their monitoring your private life, its simply a recording of your DNA sequence that can only be used in matching to DNA found at crime scenes.

And its not like hackers can frame you by looking up your DNA from the database and replicating your DNA, were nowhere near as advanced in cloning, that we can clone off a disk. And even if we could, we can already clone fingerprints, but that doesn't invalidate the usefulness of fingerprinting

If your taking up arms against this, why aren't you taking up arms against the fact that the government KNOWS your full name?
Its effectively the same thing, an ID Tag that drastically narrows down an unknown ID to a few possible individuals. It can do NOTHING ELSE.

The biggest issues i see with such a database, is the security behind the system. And that it gets used only for criminal checking and nothing else. But all systems can be hacked, there are far more concerning files that can be hacked, then a listing of each citizens DNA.
Also that it is solely used only for matching crime scene evidence, since i don't want a society like in the movie Gattaca, but thats going off-topic by far.

So someone explain to me the big deal
How does it harm you for the government to know your DNA?
How does it effect your rights as a citizen?

I don't believe it does either, and if it makes crime solving more accurate, it can only be "A Good Thing" -tm

Re:Whats the big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20670153)

"Can the information of your DNA be used to harm you? Not if its used ONLY "

That's where your argument falls apart.

Only? Please. This is the government we're talking about. That's like having a penis and saying you 'only' use it for urination.

Genetic Disposition (3, Interesting)

isellmacs (661604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670105)

What happens if they starting looking at the list of people who commit crimes and compare their DNA looking for links to "genetic disposition" to create a certain type of crime?


If they example the DNA of thousands of rapists, for example, and find they all have certain genetic traits in common, will they then theorize that anybody with this genetic trait be more likely to commit rape? What would they do? The potential for "crime prevention" might be high in their eyes, maybe even to the point of pre-emptively arresting and convicting people for their genetics? Think about the potential for false positives; do you think that would stop them from trying to convict "potential" criminals?


I disagree that DNA is just like a finger-print; the amount of information they can gain, or they can speculate on, is orders of magnitude higher. Anything like this should always under-go major scrutiny, especially measuring the potential for abuse. Politicans and Police Officers CAN, HAVE and WILL abuse whatever powers they are given, history has shown very clearly to me that that will probably never change.

It's one thing to give Police tools that could be useful in finding somebody who's commited a crime, but i'm 100% against giving them anything that would allow any sort of pre-emptiveness against peopel who "might" commit a crime. Once the police get ahold of a way to do genetic profiling to try and determine potential criminals, it'll be too late.

I hate this arguement - No big deal (1)

Foo2rama (755806) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670205)

So the way a DNA sample is taken and stored by law enforcement, cannot tell anything about a persons medical history past present or future, it is just a more detailed fingerprint. People argued about storing fingerprints too when they where first, people react way to emotionally about this when they do not know the facts. Britain which uses the short tandem repeats (STR)Analysis cannot tell anything about you, nor is the data stored able to be recreated into something else.

DNA Profiling Not As Reliable As Reported (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670503)

For years, prosecutors have been fond of citing "statistics" that purportedly show that DNA matching is reliable to "1 in billions". However, this has never actually been established.

For one thing, the figures cited are founded on the assumption that the DNA sites that are being matched up are individually independent. But they have not established that beyond a reasonable doubt yet.

Here is an example of what I mean: what are the odds that a randomly-sampled American has the genes that result in curly hair? Relatively low... maybe around 0.2 or so.

On the other hand: what are the odds that the same person has the genes for curly hair... GIVEN THAT he also has the genes for sickle-cell anemia? That would be pretty high: maybe around 0.99, give or take.

Individual genes (or lots of them anyway) are NOT completely independent. They depend on others in complex ways that are not yet fully understood. And until we understand more about that, we should be very careful before making claims about the "reliability" of such tests. In certain cases (and there is no reliable way to tell which), the reliability of the test might only be 1 in 100,0000 or even less. That might still sound like a lot, but it is not. That would match 4 or 5 people just in my immediate area.

such naïveté... (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670821)

Have to smile at the lack of foresight these people exhibit, implying it's OK to dna-harvest criminals. If that's OK, then all that needs to be done to get a comprehensive database of DNA profiles is to ensure everyone gets arrested for a "crime" at some point. Doesn't need to be much of a crime, and if everyone gets the same treatment, it's just business as usual.

A good lawyer can beat DNA like OJ did. (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20670911)

A good lawyer can beat DNA like OJ did.
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