Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Too Much Information

The Independent's headline story is a report into the UK's DNA database. Seeing how keen the powers that be in NZ are to replicate this unfortunate experiment here, it's prudent to see how the UK operate their DNA library. Badly. Very, very badly.

"Britain now has by far the largest DNA database in the world. It includes an estimated one million people who have never been found guilty of any offence, some 100,000 of whom are children. About 40 per cent of young black men have been forced to provide samples, compared with 13 per cent of Asian men and 9 per cent of white men.

Genetic material is now taken from all people arrested by police, regardless of whether they are subsequently charged or convicted, and remains on file for life. Offences covered include begging, being drunk and disorderly, taking part in an illegal demonstration and minor acts of criminal damage caused by children kicking footballs or, in one instance, throwing a snowball.

...It registered alarm over the "very lax security" protecting the database and concerns over "who had access to samples and profiles and for what purpose"."

New Zealand's DNA database needs to be kept on a very tight leash, and it certainly should not have its reach broadened to include anyone ever busted. I've heard enough stories of cops here heavying arrestees to provide DNA even when under the law they aren't obliged to. I do not trust the police with this level of personal detail, and if this plan to expand NZ's DNA database goes ahead, I fear it will all end in tears.