DNA

UK government to save DNA profiles of innocent people, civil liberties groups speak out

Friday, July 29, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: DNA profiling, civil liberties, health news

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(NaturalNews) If you are arrested in the UK on suspicion that you may have committed a crime but are later proven innocent, your DNA profile will still remain within government databases, according to a new report in The Daily Telegraph. After previously promising that it would destroy all DNA profiles of innocent civilians, except when charges involve violence or sex crimes, the UK government has now decided that it will keep such profiles after all, but do so "anonymously."

DNA profiles are encrypted numeric sequences that identify individuals within a database system. Law enforcement agencies use DNA profiles to easily identify individuals for the purpose of parental testing or criminal investigation. But UK officials want to retain all DNA profiles of individuals that are taken into custody, regardless of whether or not they actually committed a crime.

The government's excuse for breaching its promise in the matter is that retained profiles will supposedly be categorized anonymously. However, the UK's Home Office minister James Brokenshire openly admitted that it is possible to identify the profiles through simple laboratory analysis, which many civil liberties groups say is absolutely unacceptable.

"Members of the committee will be aware that most DNA records ... will include the original barcode, which is used by both the police and the FSS [Forensic Science Service] to track the sample and resulting profile through the system," said Brokenshire before the UK Parliament.

"It is therefore theoretically possible that a laboratory could identify an individual's profile from the barcode, but only in conjunction with the force which took the original sample, by giving details of the barcode of the force and asking for the individual's name."

In other words, the system is anything but anonymous, as it would be quite simple for local police departments to identify an "anonymous" profile by matching barcodes with their corresponding information sets.

"This is disgraceful on the part of the government," said Daniel Hamilton, director of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, to the Telegraph. "Destroying physical DNA samples is a pointless gesture if the computer records are to be retained."

Sources for this story include:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-a...

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