Feeds

DNA pioneer lambasts government database policy

Declares himself 'astonished, perplexed and deeply worried'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.