back to article UK Border Agency flip-flops on asylum seeker DNA tests

After it "temporarily suspended" its controversial nationality DNA testing pilot, the UK Border Agency has today changed its stance again, saying the programme will go ahead, but the results won't be used to decide asylum seekers' fate. DNA fingerprints and isotope analysis will be collected from asylum seekers, but "they will …

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I wonder

how many of these DNA profiles will magically end up on the NDNADB?

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Anonymous Coward

Refusal

Rather than undermining their case, I would a refugee to be very wary of DNA testing.

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Anonymous Coward

Alan Johnson shows he dangers of DNA profiling

Once again, Alan Johnson, the new Home Secretary that replaced Jacqui Smith 'stamps' his authority on a bad decision of Jacqui Smiths.

But it shows the problem with DNA profiles of innocent being stored, sooner or later someone will think they can match particular markers to particular crimes, then will use those markets as a predictor for those crimes.

Weak thinking like Alan's is the first step down that route, and the later steps become far easier.

It will be a science paper: "T82764 marker combination correlates approx to Theft".

Alan Johnson: "We'll give T82764 marker tests to the police to aid in policing"

Police: "We have a theft, lets check the T82764 people first to see if we have a case against any"

Alan Johnson Mk2: "Our analysis shows that yes indeed, the link between T82764 & theft is far stronger than previously thought, so we'll make the presence of T82764 admissible as evidence in court for theft prosecutions"

Alan Johnson Mk3: "We are getting many more theft crimes prosecuted, but strangely the number of thefts is not going down, we need to lock up all T82764s from birth to prevent crimes".

People like this are a threat to a free society.

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History is written by the winners

As I commented previously, the Home Office has orders to make this work. The narrative for Nature, etc will be concocted afterwards.

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Anonymous Coward

An African has a DNA marker

So an African says he's from Somalia, but his DNA tests shows a marker, this marker has been found to be in 95% of the population of a particular valley, but only in 20% of normal Africans. Geneticists have concluded that the people's of that valley don't travel widely because the marker is so concentrated there.

What is the probability of that Asylum seeker being from the valley?

Well lets see, population of Africa is 680million, say 5000 people live in the valley, so (5000*0.95) / ( 680000000*.2) = 4750 / 136000000 = 0.000035

i.e. the test tells you nothing.

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Stop

Hippocratic oath

The BMA should revoke the license of any doctor who participates in this rebirth of eugenics.

Medical procedures are supposed to be undertaken for the benefit of the patient - not the benefit of the state.

I would class any doctor participating in this scheme as (at the low end of, admittedly) in the group that also includes doctors who participate in torture (at guantanamo and elsewhere) and reaches up at the high end to the likes of Mengele. The BMA should put their foot down. (As a purely practical matter, they have the same kind of leverage that could put the kibosh on this scheme in a similar way to how BALPA's intervention into the ID cards scheme did it such serious damage.)

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I created at petition on the number10 site in the hope of ending this.

Link to petition http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/BorderAgency-DNA/

Link to original article http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/09/border-agencys.html that alerted me to this

Link to Reddit post where we can hopefully raise the profile of this issue http://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/9t9kr/petition_to_stop_the_border_agencys_dna_testing/

Link to Digg post http://digg.com/general_sciences/Scientists_Decry_Flawed_and_Horrifying_Nationality_Tests

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Madness

Just because the whole premise of the test is complete bollocks, does not mean that we should not use it to give brown foreigners a hard time. In fact it fits in perfectly with the rest of our logical and humane immigration policy.

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Silver badge

They can't cancle it now...

I already spent the kickback from my golf buddy who "won" the contract.

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Grenade

Are IBM involved?

I hear they have form on this sort of project ;-)

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FAIL

Flip-flops?

WTF have plastic sandals got to do with the story?

Or does it have an alternate (clearly puerile) meaning in some part of the world or other?

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Anonymous Coward

@Anonymous Coward - Hippocratic oath...

"Medical procedures are supposed to be undertaken for the benefit of the patient - not the benefit of the state."

Well said mate - but that fight is already lost, good and truly, in almost every area where govt and medicine overlap. The vast majority of today's doctors are in it for the money and the (considerable) perks - the few with a conscience (especially over their astronomical earnings) don't number enough to matter.

The BMA? It's a mutual admiration society that rarely punishes other than those who affect the profession's public image...

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Anonymous Coward

David X. Li & Gaussian copula function

http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/17-03/wp_quant?currentPage=all

I think this also illustrates the problem. You have a method that determines a correlation between one thing and another, however there is a slight feedback: If the equation says that X correlated to Y, then the action taken on that statistic, causes X to more closely correlated to Y, which feedback into a stronger correlation from the equation, round and round and round.

The feedback causes the correlation to fly off into fantasy land.

This is what happened in the financial collapse brought on by the Gaussian copula function. The equation told them they were safe, but it was fantasy.

So NuLabour start with a correlation and it is unreliable, and they intent to use it anyway. And it shows that any idea that DNA profiles of innocent people will not be used to separate people into groups by their genes, is totally wrong.

That is step 1 in Eugenics.

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Anonymous Coward

don't worry

We all know the govt is committed to policy based evidence.

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Joke

jeez, that's tough

"isotope analysis will be collected from asylum seekers"

asylum seekers are going to have to analyse an isotope before their application will be considered? bloody hell, I know the UK is trying to attract science grads as immigrants but surely that's asking too much?

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Id

I can understand them taking a biometric id so that if they are refused and booted out they can be identified when they invariably return but this stuff seems like pseudo-science at best.

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Flame

So if it's not going to be used for any decision...

...why the Buddy Holly are they wasting taxpayers' money doing it in the first place?

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