Feeds

DNA pioneer lambasts government database policy

Declares himself 'astonished, perplexed and deeply worried'

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

The developer of DNA fingerprinting and profiling has said the government is wrong in retaining profiles of innocent people.

Geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys told MPs that he was "astonished, perplexed and deeply worried" about the existing management policy of the National DNA Database.

He was providing evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in a session on the database on 3 February 2010. Currently, everybody arrested in England and Wales has to provide a DNA sample, and the government has been heavily criticised for retaining profiles of people not charged or found innocent. The European Court of Human Rights ruled against the policy of indefinite retention in late 2008.

In response to a question from committee chair Keith Vaz MP on whether he stood by his criticism of the Home Office's revised proposals of retaining the DNA of anyone who is arrested for six years, Jeffreys replied: "Yes I do indeed, even six years is a unique situation. We are the only country in the world that keeps DNA for that length of time. New Zealand is the closest I can find. No other country is doing this."

When asked by Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake what additional controls should be added to the current system, he said innocent people should be taken off the database. He added that he would "object profoundly" if his own DNA was put onto the system.

"DNA is intimately different to fingerprinting, it carries incredibly intimate information about who you are, where you're from and your family," said Jeffreys. He made reference to a recorded suicide due to an innocent person's shame at being on the database and pointed out that the likelihood of a false match "was not zero".

The geneticist said England and Wales should follow Scotland's lead, where police only retain the DNA profiles of innocent people under specific circumstances, with those accused of sexual assaults having their profiles held for a maximum of five years.

Plans by the United Arab Emirates to introduce a mandatory database for the whole population should be watched closely by the UK "to see if it does impact on criminal protection", said Jeffreys.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.