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Biotech Government Politics

Bioethics Group Raises DNA Database Concerns 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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Bioethics Group Raises DNA Database Concerns

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  • Zombies (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gregb05 ( 754217 ) <bakergo@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:19PM (#20668901) Journal
    I, for one, would be frightened if they caught a horrible man without DNA.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      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!
  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:20PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PlatyPaul ( 690601 )
      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]
      • Aargh. I hit the wrong button (submit instead of preview).

        That should be:

        as well as the introduction of random mutation
      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        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.

        • 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.

          One of the standard "test cases" for examining the influence of relatedness on genetics and genetic diseases is to study the appropriate variation in several subsets of the Jewish population (mostly IIRC shamans of some form). The reason for this is that they've got long, reasonably accurate genealogies. But they're

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        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 a
    • 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.

    • 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...
      • by Tim C ( 15259 )
        That'll be PC Plod rather than Joe Trooper, given that we're talking about the UK.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
  • by ThatsNotFunny ( 775189 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:22PM (#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.
    • by locokamil ( 850008 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:30PM (#20669071) Homepage
      I'm sorry, but that idea makes far too much sense for it to be seriously considered by lawmakers (or slashdot, for that matter).
    • 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).
    • ...for people who ARE convicted, how about storing it for a period of time similar to a parole period?

      I.e. instead of the current sentencing structure where there is a head sentence with eligibility for parole after a certain period, which lasts for the remainder of the head sentence, why not allow judges to also sentence someone to a period for which their DNA will be kept on file?

      "I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment, with a 6 year non-parole period and a 4 year DNA retention period following the expir
  • by epee1221 ( 873140 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:23PM (#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.
    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
      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.

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SirGeek ( 120712 )

      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.
  • by BUL2294 ( 1081735 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:24PM (#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]...
    • At the moment, it's not difficult to fake fingerprints if you have a good image. In the future it may be just as easy to fake DNA and spread it at the scene of a crime.
  • by SirGeek ( 120712 ) <sirgeek-slashdot@@@mrsucko...org> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:26PM (#20669015) Homepage

    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? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Veetox ( 931340 )
      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
      • 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.
        • by Veetox ( 931340 )
          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.
    • "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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by demachina ( 71715 )
        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 co
      • by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:57PM (#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).
      • 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

        • "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."

          Homophobia is acute enough in many cultures that if a "gay gene" were discovered I assure you parents would abort a fetus that had it. Its a chronic problem in India that parents are aborting female children, though its against the law, because the parent's have to pay dowries to marry them off. Girls are considered a huge burden while boys are
          • Well, as for the lead, there seems to be some theories about the collapse of the roman empire being connected to lead poisoning. They used it to seal their aqueducts and seal the joints on the plumbing. It is said that lead attacked the part of the brain that reasons actions with consequences so I guess it could be attributed to crime too. Well I think it effected the reasoning part, I don't know if it had anything to do with consequences. if causewd iritability and memory loss along with making it difficul
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        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?
        • Although specific genes were not what was considered, the issue has arose in the past. Basically, if they found suck a gene (IMO, no such thing exists, and anyone who does think it does exist is a poor geneticist and a worse sociologist) they might call for compulsory sterilization [wikipedia.org], like they did in the past. From www.eugenicsarchive.org

          Eugenicists claimed that criminal behavior was a result of defective genes. Most eugenicists adhered to the prevailing social theory of the early decades of the twentieth century that "culture does not make the man, but man makes the culture," meaning that poor people gravitate toward and contribute to a poverty-stricken environment, and thus create their own degenerate conditions. Thus, while not denying that poor social and cultural background might contribute to criminality, eugenicists argued that criminality, like many other social traits, was ultimately biological in origin.

          Eugenicists were concerned with the noticeable rise in crime rates, especially in the fast-developing urban areas of the United States. They conducted both family pedigree studies and surveys by ethnic and national origin to show that criminality ran high in certain families and groups. Cyril Burt's pedigree analyses in England (on delinquency) supported eugenicists' views that if a trait ran in families it must be genetic. Similarly, Harry H. Laughlin gathered data on incarceration rates by country of origin to show that immigrants to the U.S. from eastern and southern Europe and the Mediterranean countries were disproportionately represented in prisons than "old stock" Americans or recent immigrants from Germany and other Nordic or Anglo-Saxon countries. Laughlin's data had such serious statistical problems that, according to a critique at the time, totally invalidated the conclusions. However, these data formed a cornerstone of the argument Laughlin made to the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization to curb immigration from Southern and eastern Europe and the Mediterranan. They were also highly influential in eugenicists' lobbying efforts for sterilization laws that would prevent incarcerated criminals from giving birth to "criminal" offspring. If the number of criminals could be reduced through these biological measures eugenicists argued, it would save the state millions of dollars a year.

          And they did, too, see Bell v Buck [answers.com]. Hey, who knows rights people will piss on 'because of genetics' in the future.

          The only thing I think we can do to prevent that s

      • For the government to require DNA samples will likely sound very much like being numbered by the beast to people of a conservative, fundamentalist, Christian mindset. So it is very likely that they would not sit still for the govt attempting to do that in the US. I suspect those feelings are also behind some of the opposition to a national id card as well.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:28PM (#20669031) Homepage

    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.

    • by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:59PM (#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]

      • "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?

        • by Qzukk ( 229616 )
          What's novel about this?

          There is nothing novel about police incompetence, they're humans too.
    • 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 no
    • by giafly ( 926567 )

      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 def

  • Convicted? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfr ... t ['com' in gap]> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:28PM (#20669033) Homepage Journal
    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?
    • 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.

      • 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
        • 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.

          I think you'll find that the only amendments that they don't routinely disparage and disregard are #3, #7, and #8.

          As for "least favorite", that'd be #10. No one's paid attention to that one in living memory.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      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. (:-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sholden ( 12227 )
      They're way ahead of you: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23412351-details/Outrage+as+DNA+profile+of+seven-month-old+baby+is+added+to+register/article.do [thisislondon.co.uk]

      It was revealed this year that more than 100,000 DNA samples had been taken from children, aged ten to 16, who have never been charged or convicted of any crime.
    • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 )
      As many as get caught for DUI... Which is commonplace among politicians.
  • 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 securi

    • 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 he
  • 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/...
    • 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?
      • People DO emigrate and immigrate from the UK

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

      • 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 populat

  • by MrNemesis ( 587188 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:31PM (#20669079) Homepage Journal
    ...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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by p0tat03 ( 985078 )

      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).

  • by ZuluZero ( 1159015 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:34PM (#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?
  • 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?
    • 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! (Score:2, Funny)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *

    "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."

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

      Since your entire argument is based on this assertion, you should really explain the reasoning behind it. DNA runs in families in a way that fingerprints do not.
  • 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 dat
  • 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 gover
  • 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 to the US adopting something similar to the Icelandic Medical Database.
  • 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 i
    • by Bazar ( 778572 )
      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 b
  • 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.

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

      Easy. It's a Bad Thing because I don't want them to have it.
      And don't ask why. I don't consider I need to justify my reasons.
      What part of "I DON'T WANT TO BE IN A DATABASE" don't people understand?
  • Genetic Disposition (Score:3, Interesting)

    by isellmacs ( 661604 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @01:39PM (#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.

  • 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.
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @02:01PM (#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.
  • 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.
    • ..and there are laws everyone breaks, especially here in the UK, that are simply not enforced. Been practicing your archery lately? No? Get the swabs out.
  • A good lawyer can beat DNA like OJ did.

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