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back to article Plods say it's OK for them give out your DNA

The National Police Improvement Agency has defended allowing companies access to the national DNA database. A spokesperson for the NPIA told GC News that there are "stringent guidelines" surrounding each request for profiles from the National DNA Database, including scrutiny by a newly formed ethics board. "After approval by …

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So what?

On reading the healding to this article I found myself ready to be outraged at this appalling misuse of data entrusted to the goverenment for purposes other than it was orginally intended.

On actually reading the article, however, I find it very difficult to be angry about it. Indeed, I am even in favour of it. The key word here is anomymised. Provided that is genuinely the case then I can see huge value in the medical community having access to a large pre-existing database of DNA samples.

However, we need clear ground rules to preserve anonymity. If all that is given is the samples themselves then there is no big deal, but I can see legitimate reasons for wanting the ages of the individuals or where in the country they live. If we are not careful it would end up with the data not being very anonymous at all.

So what to give? Maybe a bracketed date of birth such as just the year rather than an exact date, a vague region such as Midlands or North West, and since the gender is easily determined in any case supplying that as a convenience would do no harm. The data would have to be taken from periodic (e.g. annual) snapshots of the database to prevent very new samples being identifiable by cross-referencing with previous requests. If you provide much more than that you run the risk that the supposedly anonymised data would be nothing of the sort. If more data is needed then you have to acquire your samples from somewhere else, preferably where they actually volunteered their details.

So on balance, a guarded welcome. However, what is needed urgently is for ground rules of the kind I have just wished up to be firmly established and the data to be offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Those guidelines need to be in the public domain so that we can all see that the data given is as anonymous as we are told it is.

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Paris Hilton

Giving something back

I think we should round up Gordo and his gang, line them up with dropped trou, and take it in turns "supplying them with our DNA".

Do to them what they do to us.

Paris, cos she's no stranger to receiving DNA

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Unhappy

Stringent Guidlines

Just like the 'stringent guidelines' at the DVLA.

Sell multiple identities to any crook with a cloned credit card.

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Anonymous Coward

Home Office....

From the Home Office website....

"The national DNA database is a key police intelligence tool that helps to:

* quickly identify offenders

* make earlier arrests

* secure more convictions

* provide critical investigative leads for police investigations"

Oh, and also make a few quid on the side for the police....

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mhmm

Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Brits

Stop it, stop it now. When you come up with crazy ass s--t like this and approve it, it gives people in my country ideas. This sounds like the patriot act on crack .

Loads AK-47 waits for the gov to strip me of all rights and kick the door in.

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Happy

What's the big deal.

I don't see why innocent people should be removed from the database. If the police had a complete database of everyone in the UK, think about how quickly they'd catch criminals.

I don't like the idea of getting marketing junk mail, but other than that, I don't really see how anyone having my DNA, Car info etc is that bad.

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Fuckoff Fuckoff Fuckoff Fuckoff

I know fuck all about biotechnology (which is still more than the typical freetard, but still.)

To be honest I can't imagine what $COMPANY is doing with the DNA, but I also can't imagine that they've put their hand in their pocket just to alturisticly improve detection rates. Doing that sort of thing is $UNIVERISTY or $AGENCY.

Up until this moment I've actually been in favour of the DNA database, having a mate who's been raped will do that to you, but if they really are flogging it to anyone who can bribe or bamboozle the "panel" then I for one don't want it.

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@ Graham Marsden +others

'"It also said that the police, many of whose officers have added themselves to the database voluntarily, rejected a request for their DNA samples to be used in a research project". ... so what do they have to fear...?'

At a presentation at the Dana Centre a couple of years ago it was explained that police profiles are held on an entirely separate database. The reason given was that this is in order to reduce irrelevant matches when the crime scene had been accidentally contaminated.

Prior to the setting up of this separate database an ACPO chief had maintained that to take profiles from police would be "an infringement of civil liberties".

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Black Helicopters

DNA profiles aren't anywhere near "unique"

(and also the reason why they want everybody in the database...)

There are about 133 billion possible DNA profiles in all.

"M'lud, I put it to you that the odds that the accused is innocent are less than one in THIRTEEN BILLION". Sounds pretty convincing, doesn't it?

Problem is, there are a lot of people out there. And that means some people have the SAME DNA profile as you - and that's without taking into account family DNA traits and the fact that DNA isn't entirely random.

I'm no statistician (so please correct my maths if I'm wrong), but probability theory says:

number of duplicate profiles = probability of a match * size of sample^2

So in the UK (pop ~60m), that suggests around 300,000 people have EXACTLY the same DNA profile as someone else. In other words, say your DNA turns up at a crime scene? There's at least a 1 in 200 chance that you are one of the duplicates, so it "could" have been someone else. Those odds don't look so good in front of a judge.

The only way to get the odds back up again is to know the identity of the of the other match(es), and eliminate them as a suspect: "M'lud, there are only two people in the world who could have comitted this crime. One is a 79 year-old-widow living in Cleethorpes, the other stands before you accused..." etc, etc.

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Pirate

A Slippery Slope Indeed!!!

DNA is taken for ANYONE arrested, guilty or innocent. All the particulars of the individual are recorded into this database. The database was approved as an 'essential' crime reducing function. It all sounds very practical.

The DNA is taken regardless of guilt so that it can be compared to unidentified sames taken from crime screnes. You get nicked for drunk and disorderly and the comparison shows that you also have a penchant for armed robbery/murder/rapes/etc. Criminal off the street. Everybody applaudes! Great Job!

Yes they 'force' the sample so that the comparison can be made against all the unidentified crime samples. It doesn't make sense to wait for a guilty verdit for the arresting crime to take the sample and then re-try you for database matching crimes! It's a Catch-22 for law enforcement. They need the sample up front. Once your in the system, don't commit a crime except while wearing a full body condom or you run the risk of being identified.

Now the ominous part here is that the database is no longer restricted to law enforcement! Do they really expect us to believe that an 'error' will never occur and the 'santized' database supplied to corporations will NEVER contain restricted data (name, address, etc)? Just look at the number to total screw-ups in data handling over the past 12 months! Laptops left behind, CDs missing, Blackberries gone astray! If it can happen, it WILL happen!

The scary side of all of this is eugenics! The researchers find that everyone with Pattern AB are hard working but docile people who do what they are told. Pattern AC are people who are hard working but devoutly individualistic and resist authority. Which group will the government cater to and which one goes to the 're-education' camps?

A bit far fetched I know, but if reseach companies can use the database for any purpose, how long before they are commisioned to create a eugenics database to permit the government to 'better' serve it's people?

THX-1138, you have been found guilty of subversion to the natural order and will be liquidated!

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RW
Unhappy

Who's behind this?

Here in Canada, Customs has conducted a years-long program of harassing gay and lesbian businesses who want to import porn. Little Sister's in Vancouver, after years of fighting (and winning in court) finally threw in the towel, having reached a state of exhaustion.

The interesting thing is that the self-same publications condemned by Customs as inadmissable if imported by wicked fags sail right through the border when imported by mainstream bookstores.

I infer that somewhere in the bowels of government lurks a homophobe of great power and authority who must be placated at all costs.

Looking at the insanity of New Labour's constant striving to push national IDs, the DNA database, insane H&S regulations, over-reaction to minor crimes and disregard for major ones, and other Stasi-like systems, I can only conclude that there is someone in Britain with great power. Power such that logic, reason, and the desires of the citizenry, to say nothing of the historical dedication of Britain to the concept "a man's home is his castle" are overridden.

This someone seems to think that a totalitarian state is the thing to go for.

It can't be Tony. He's gone. It can't be Gordon. He's too thick. it can't be Jaqcqui; she's too thick, too. Is it Harriet? Who is it?

Sad prediction: that the New Totalitarian party will do something to ensconce itself in power. No matter who wins your next election, this mysterious person will still have their hands on the power to assert their totalitarian bias. Be prepared for laws against making anti-government statements any day now. I'm not kidding.

Anyone care to suggest who this person is that has the power to overrule logic, common sense, established practice, and history?

PS: I suspect this same person may be responsible for the decline of the British education system. After all, to be educated is to be an elitist, and that is inadmissible in the egalitarian world of NuBritain.

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Stop

@9:50 AC

"Is it me or is the UK becoming more and more like China in its privacy practices?"

Actually, UK is a lot worse. China is using *our* CCTV strategy as a successful model. I'll say that again for the dimwitted Labourites. China (not the most "free" country in the world) is using the UK's (supposedly a champion of democracy) CCTV camera strategy as an effective model. So we're better at spying on our citizens than China. We're number 1!

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Unhappy

@James

It isn't that simple. Often, more than one DNA trace can be found at a crime scene, such as the ones belonging to the victim or people that have recently been there (especially if it's a public place), which would give a number of false positives if everyone were in the database. And a careful villain that had planned his crime probably hadn't left the trace.

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Alien

Computers ARE the FUTURE!!

See! This is exactly why I want my entire personality downloaded to a computer as soon as possible and the body destroyed. (something amanfrommars did many years ago I hasten to add & didn't cause him any harm...)

> You want my DNA officer! ... For YOUR database!

> Well sir, I have no DNA because I AM YOUR database!!! Mhu ha ha HA HA!!

Hey.... what are you doing? Stay away from that plug socket! No stop! I'll n.....<BZZT>....<BEEP>

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@RW

There's a trend in a lot of right-wing journalism,to mutter and point fingers at the "Marxist Conspiracy", which they claim has lain siege to the Education and Government structures. On the one hand I'd dismiss it as preposterous, on the other hand all that this "conspiracy" needs is favouritism to be exercised according to political bias, and that is all too feasible. As conspiracy theories go it's self-fullfilling, since the "conspirators" wouldn't necessarily know that they were affiliated with the conspiracy!

@E_Nigma,

Fortunately it IS that simple, the vast number of false positives thrown up by a database would cause the siginificance of a DNA evidence to be re-evaluated.

That said if they're selling the database to anyone who promises to do "something cool" with it, then I don't want it. Hope there's a march about this one, I could do with the exercise!

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Alien

Am I the only one but...

"these profiles are completely anonymous and are not identifiable in any way"

I read that as meaning the profiles provided to 3rd parties for research.

The DNA profiles in the database absolutely ARE identifiable, that's the point. Any other reading is... well... stupid.

If you're researching a quicker, cheaper (hah!) more reliable method of telling one DNA sample from another you don't need who know who's DNA it is just that your system is consistent and accurate and telling 1 from all the rest.

The USA want your fingerprints just to go on HOLIDAY there and you're worried about big brother UK? lol

Anon because they already know who I am.

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Flame

This week's moan

Here we go again: the weekly moan, whinge, complain..

What are you losers going to do about the rape of your rights as a citizen? Carry on as last week? Just be as witty as usual?

How about actually getting out off your fat arses and doing something for your children's future?

Or is that just a bit too radical, having to sacrifice and be brave?

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Gates Horns

RE: What's the big deal

"I don't really see how anyone having my DNA, Car info etc is that bad."

James, we found your DNA at a crime scene and would like you to come down for questioning. Yes ,yes, of course you weren't involved. OK, sure you were never there. We're just going to put these cuffs on you and you'll be back in no time. By the way, is there some place your kids can stay for a week or longer, in case, you know, something happens?

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Black Helicopters

Fatal choice !

Fatal choice the summer of 1933 has come around again for the next repeat round , but far closer to home then most people realize !

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Coat

Re:What's the big deal (Additional)

James, there has been another crime and we found your DNA again. What with you being a suspect last time and all we'd like to speak to you again, yes I know that you were innocent last time, but then, since the Soham murders we can't be too careful can we......(Don't forget to pack a bag)

James, about your job as a teacher, well you see, I know that you haven't been convicted and all but, its really not appropriate to have a suspect of such a crime working in a school, hospital, old peoples home, etc etc. I know that technically you were innocent but you see, there will always be that element of doubt and after all.

Still have nothing to fear? When there are so many things to be guilty of, everyone is guilty of something.

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@This week's moan

"What are you losers going to do about the rape of your rights as a citizen? Carry on as last week? Just be as witty as usual?

"How about actually getting out off your fat arses and doing something for your children's future?"

I sense a certain irony here.

You could have done something more useful like posting the links to http://www.theyworkforyou.com and http://www.writetothem.com so people can contact their MPs and express their objections.

But I guess you were too busy calling people names and being sarcastic...

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dek

@Graham Marsden

Or maybe AC has come to the conclusion (like many I guess) that there is no point complaining to the perpetrators (the gov) or would-be perpetrators (the shadow gov)? What with democracy being an illusion and representational government anything but.

On a more general point, if it's ok for *them* to sell/release/lose *our* data (dna, whatever) then surely it's ok for us to do the same with any/all of their personal data? Also maybe a network of watchers could be established and real-time data fed into a maps mash-up so when/if Joe Public get the itch to complain they can at least do it f2f.

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funny how

We stopped believing or trusting the Police around about May 2 1997........ what happened then I wonder?

On a brighter note, at least we don't live in a state like this: “Fascism is typified by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic.”

oops.

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Coat

@grahem_marsden

Preaching to the choir mate, remember that most of these readers only see a women on certain (ahem) sites.

They get their jollies by ranting about how the country is turning into police state, you can tell as "the moment" approaches, since they start announcing that EVERY SINGLE PERSON will be locked up due to whatever they're ranting about. A glance across the posts here suggests that quite a few readers have slunk off to the gents in shame, discretely clutching their emergency clean y-fronts.

Asking them to get off their arse and actually do something, is like asking a pathological porn addict to try chatting up a bird at the bar... you'd have to explain what "bar" and "chat" meant first.

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Anonymous Coward

dodgy dna matches

The filth in the land of freedom have been cutting corners and trying to cover it up eg. here

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-dna20-2008jul20,0,1506170,full.story

and here

http://www.mddailyrecord.com/article.cfm?id=6073&type=UTTM

no doubt our boys aren't far behind.

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Stop

@James

There are so many reasons this is wrong, we could be here all day.

But, forget the false accusation line, let's look at the more obvious (and difficult) issues.

The government will set up (or has set up) a database with some/everyone's dna.

How will they keep this information secure? They don't have a good track record so far, pretty much a 100% success rate at allowing such data to get into the public domain.

So why does that matter? When you take out life insurance, but have to pay three times the premium, because of a slightly dodgy gene you happen to have - doesn't mean anything - honest! Or maybe you cannot get life insurance, or a morgage because you are high risk. What about when potential spouses can get on the net and (for a small fee) check your disposition for heart disease, cancer, alcholism etc etc.

The wealth of information that may be contained in our DNA is a long way from being understood - but when it is, the idea of it all being held by the government, is frightening, very very frightening - even worse is the idea of the value of this information to private companies, and the likleyhood of it remaining private once this value is fully realised.

Personally I wouldn't trust the state with a paperclip, let alone a multi-billion pound database (which in all honesty will probably have to be run by a private company anyway).

There is no way that the benifits of this can even come close to matching the dangers inherent in it (& the cost) & the potential future risk for corruption.

If this were an Orwell novel, we'd all consider it too far fetched.

Stop - because they should and quickly too.

M.

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Coat

No permission

Surely, the data protection act requires you to give your consent for information to be passed on to third parties. Usually this is by ticking a box stating you DO NOT want it passed on, but that option to withhold your data MUST be included in any data captured. These research companies are third parties. Therefore m'Lud, by passing on the information, the Police have broken the Law.

I rest my case. Class action anyone. Anonymous cause I don't want this surveillance Government to use this against me later. Damn they already are tapping the server and know I posted this.

Paranoid, why should I be?

Mines the coat with the handcuffs in the pocket.

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@Mark Roberjot

> So why does that matter? When you take out life insurance, but have to pay three > times the premium, because of a slightly dodgy gene you happen to have - doesn't > mean anything - honest! Or maybe you cannot get life insurance, or a morgage

> because you are high risk. What about when potential spouses can get on the net >and (for a small fee) check your disposition for heart disease, cancer, alcholism etc >etc.

Uh, hu, so if you're in the habbit of invalidating your insurance by making false declarations, and if your beloved goes sneaking around behind your back you might have a few problems... oh, wait, that's already the case.

By all means complain about the REAL problems with these measures, but "It'll stop me fibbing" is not really a good argument.

And it's not as if you're a permanent fibber, just occiaisionally, now and again, temporarily doyou become a deceitful lieing toad, but on those occaisions you want the "freedom" to spin a yarn a mile long.

He who would trade an effective policing tool for a few temporary "freedom" deserves neither, will lose both, and will probably vote labour back in.

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Stop

@A/C

"Only criminals or other miscreants should worry. Average Job Schmoe who has not committed any crime is in the clear."

Where the F**k have you been for the last decade?

You no longer have to be guilty of any crime, nor even cautioned. Even if they THINK you have commited a crime, they take your DNA and store it forever. That is why there are so many kids on there. They happened to have commited a "crime" of wearing a hooded top and gathered in a group of more than 4 people. Therefore, in the Polices eyes, they are guilty, no chance to prove innocence these days.

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Flame

Come on then

Those of you complaining about the lack of action'. What are you doing?

You aren't even discussing or having an opinion. You are skulking around bitching and whining about other peoples opinions.

What a waste of energy!! So I guess, to paraphrase your own posts,put up or shut up. Or are you too busy surfing single handed?

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Happy

@bobbles31

Specifically I'm bitching about the lunatic fantasy that DNA databases will see everyone spend their entire lives under interactive investigation, and aeveryone locked up for ever having set foot within ten yards of a crime scene.

There are pleanty of far more pressing, one might say "real" problems, in particular how data might "leak" through "companies", but rather than worry about a valid specific many self proclaimed "dissenters" just harp on about disturbing fictions. This makes me suspect that they don't give a flying fuck about looking at something carefully and then taking action, as it's much easier, and looks far cooler to run around screaming "THE SKY IS FALLING!!11one". It might have been the sky that fell on my head the other day, but I think it was more likely to be the gang of hoodies, I'm paranoid like that.

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Stop

Re:DNA profiles aren't anywhere near "unique"

As well as that, there's a crime scene, there's blood, but there's a multitude of skin cells discarded by EVERYONE that's been there.

Congratulations, you're all suspects.

Need an icon for the magna carta being raped by downing street, whilst set on fire and being defecated on. Not that kids these days would even know what it is.

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Anonymous Coward

Nazi icon seconded

Gordon Brown in a Brown shirt!

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Unhappy

Is this even legal?

My understanding of the Data Protection Act would say not. Certainly this is outside the reasonable scope of the original data provision. And DNA uniquely identifies us - that's its whole point.

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Hmm.

Why doesnt some cold war relic just release some of those old soviet engineered diseases into all the major waterways and we can be done with this whole bloody charade?

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Interestingly light on details isn't it

You know for someone so concerned with freedom of information, the originator of this story, and all its salacious headlines and controversial "revelations" is very scant on actual FACTS

http://www.jennywillott.com/news/000233/home_office_allowing_private_companies_access_to_the_dna_database.html

So lets see:

"Up to May of this year, the Home Office approved 25 applications for research projects using DNA profiles from the DNA database.

•5 are from private companies"

We can assume the other 20 were by the company that runs the database who have all the info anyway. That's 5 approved since the database was started... in 1995... 13 YEARS. Yes indeed, your private information is just FLYING out the door. Except, it isn't as they didn't provide identifiaction, only profile information. But lets not let pesky facts get in the way of a good spot of Labour bashing

"The police, many of whose officers have added themselves to the DNA database voluntarily, rejected a request for their DNA samples to be used in a research project."

A request. Ah, ok. Out of how many? On what grounds? How many were approved? If they rejected ONE request but accepted 5, 10? I can see how that'd make your "revelations" a bit less saucy. But a bit more accurate. I'm just speculating of course as the MP who submitted the freedom of information request didn't see fit to publish the request, or the answers. Ironic, no?

If anyone is interested your DNA is taken if you are arrested for a _recordable_ offence. That means your parking tickets, litter dropping, speeding, anti social behaviour etc does not mean you get a sample taken. Thats just ill informed daily mail ranting.

Nor does DNA evidence mean you are banged up and convicted on the spot. In fact recent changes in the law mean the police only have a power to arrest you if they think you commited an offence AND it is necessary for a specific reason. You need to be questioned for a minor offence and can come in when you finish work for example would NOT be an occasion where you could be arrested. But I digress - All DNA evidence ever does is connect you to a person object or location. Which is the basis of all modern forensics anyway.

And it is not a smoking gun by any means, it just creates a connection that must be supported by other evidence. DNA evidence itself is not de facto proof anyway, anymore than fingerprints ever were, and shrewd lawyers and juries are wising up to this fact.

No one has ever been convicted in a UK court on DNA evidence _alone_ as far as I know, though I wait to be proved wrong.

I'm all for a debate on how DNA is collected and used but its hard to know if the information the government has is being used responsibly and proportionately when all we get to inform opinion is so clearly biased one way or the other.

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Paris Hilton

@Dave,

Pleasestop talking sense!

While I'd be impressed if you _did_ manage to bludgeon these jerks into realising that the DNA database wasn't quite as evil as the rhetoric made out, I'd be appaled by whatever they did next to get their pent up "the world is evil" frustrations out of their systems.

Paris, 'cos she's usefull for dealing with pent up frustrations.

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Alert

My Jeans Made Me Do It

When they identify the "criminal gene", the genuinely criminal population will be able to claim that they were not responsible for their own actions, ingenius eh! this wishy washy lefty government wants to empty the prisons of career crims to make way for you recalcitrants, unless they can identify the "troublemaker gene" as well.

(it's not my fault, I have the troublemaker gene in abundance)

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Its the Human Tissue Act 2004

Forget the Data Protection Act. Giving the result of DNA analysis to third parties without consent is specifically illegal, and both the manager and the organisation are liable to criminal prosecution.

There is an exemption for the detection and prevention of crime (and my reading of the act is that there should be a specific crime that will be prevented/detected), but this does not apply to general forensic research. It also says nothing about anonymising the data so it would be illegal whether or not the data is anonymised.

There is an equivalent act in Scotland.

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Anonymous Coward

Freedom is worth some unsolved crimes

The police are just scared of hard work. They seem to be getting along fine with what is available right now. If they would just get their finger out and actually solve crimes instead of filming everyone, taking away other people's film, humouring prank callers, playing ring and so on.

Of course it would be easier if we were all chipped at birth, but we value freedom. Citizens are supposed to be free and trusted to behave. Not controlled and monitored and boxed in by the government.... JUST IN CASE.

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