UK DNA Database Found To Violate Human Rights

from the storing-non-convict-DNA dept

A European court has slapped down the UK for violating human rights with its fingerprint and DNA database, in that it retained the data on people not convicted of crimes. Until now, the UK police recorded fingerprints and DNA info on everyone arrested, but two guys who weren’t convicted felt that their info should be deleted from the database, and the court has now agreed. The UK’s defense was that “this info is important in fighting crime.” Of course, so would be forcing everyone to wear a GPS device and record everything they do on cameras only the police can watch — but we don’t allow that because it’s a violation of privacy. Either way, the UK now needs to start destroying info in its database and purge its data on other people who weren’t convicted.

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Comments on “UK DNA Database Found To Violate Human Rights”

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Sean says:

Not quite...

Nope, they’ve got 3 months to formulate a reply. The Home Secretary (resp. for police) says;
“The existing law will remain in place while we carefully consider the judgement.”
Which mean, until we figure out how to get around it. Even if the ruling is implemented completely, the police are still allowed to keep records of innocent people for a period of time.

More background here; Europe DNA ruling resonates in UK

steve anderson says:

STorage of DNA records

How will it be verified? Once a computer saves something it starts being backed-up. And then its save also, so it exists on many computers and keeps on growing on more stored devices. An removal on the orginating device does not, and will not purge it from the system!!

The ‘suits’ will obay the law, and still retain their coveted information.
“”1984″” is coming, late, but its coming!!

Ajax 4Hire says:

This one clearly violates the US Constitution, 4th amendment...

4th Amendment (1791)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Keeping the fingerprints and DNA fails the “probable cause” clause.
As the article points out, without the 4th amendment, the government could gather as much information about citizens as it wanted all in the name of “fighting crime”. Why not fingerprint and DNA bank everyone, force all monetary transactions thru government servers, require all public opinion to be first vetted by government censors; oh wait that is Mainland China.

Hugh Mann says:

Re: This one clearly violates the US Constitution, 4th amendment...

Yeah, well, there are a few things just a little off in your little “analysis”..

1. this was about the UK, so the US Constitution doesn’t really apply;

2. the requirement for probable cause applies to gathering the information in the first place, and arguably does not apply to merely keeping the record of it afterward;

3. how is keeping DNA records any different than keeping your mugshot on file? I’m sure the two guys in the story were photographed by police. Should the police be required to destroy the photos as well as the DNA samples?

4. there’s arguably nothing wrong with the government collecting information on you. It’s when you’re forced to provide it against your will that’s an issue. If you spit on the sidewalk, what’s to stop a cop from nabbing the sample for DNA purposes? That’s different from forcing you to provide a DNA sample.

I’m not sure what’s worse: knee-jerk right-wingers who really do adopt a “the means justifies the ends” policy that says it’s OK to violate the rights of citizens if it catches crooks, or knee-jerk left-wingers who don’t actually know what the Constitution means and oh-so-knowingly point to “rights” that don’t exist.


Overcast says:

4. there’s arguably nothing wrong with the government collecting information on you. It’s when you’re forced to provide it against your will that’s an issue. If you spit on the sidewalk, what’s to stop a cop from nabbing the sample for DNA purposes? That’s different from forcing you to provide a DNA sample.

But if you didn’t actually commit the crime and they are retaining the information – well, obviously – these people didn’t like that, case in point: it was against their will.

Since they hadn’t actually broken any law, I’m not sure why there’s an issue with them removing the records. Of course, the way the laws are now, they can pretty much bust you for just about anything at anytime.

But further:

Of course, so would be forcing everyone to wear a GPS device and record everything they do on cameras only the police can watch — but we don’t allow that because it’s a violation of privacy

Do you seriously think the Government will be able to keep their data safe? There’s been MORE than one example of data getting leaked. If you have a camera on your that’s RF capable, or a chip that’s RF capable – don’t think for one single second that someone *else* can’t get to that data. Look, it’s only a computer – a machine, it will do whatever a person (any person at all) that has the ability to tell it what to do; legally or not.

Say I’m rich – and want to stalk a person – I could grease a palm or two. Say your EX works for the police department, or the IT department where this data is housed? What if a pedophile works for the department or a contractor who maintains the equipment?

They act like ‘chips’ are the ‘save all’ for everything. How it will keep ‘the kids safe’ – but God forbid if a pedophile gets the tracking information for your kid – it will make it just as easy for them to find the kid.

Assuming they have a reader, and can locate the thing under the skin, or have improvised and made a Faraday cage in a van – the chip won’t help you find the kid, but it sure the hell helped them.

Basically – if you want to look at it this way – *Our DNA is our OWN Intellectual Property* isn’t it? If artist have rights to their IP, we should have rights to our personal IP as well, wouldn’t you agree?

Anonymous Coward says:

They should just collect a DNA sample and fingerprint sample from everyone at birth. That will really help in solving crimes because any DNA evidence can just be ran through a database and bingo you got a nice match. No more having to sift through years of evidence to find that killer or rapist, you know exactly who it was since you have a record of everyone. Now of course investigations should still be done because that blood sample near some attack or whatnot could be someone elses but a record of everyone would really help to cut down on crime.

Deanb says:


I totally agree that all DNA samples should be taken at birth. It would massively aid in fighting crime, and act as a huge deterrent. How many people would rape knowing full well that their DNA is on record?
Would you rather keep your ‘privacy’ to yourself or be safe in the knowledge that some thug would be deterred from assaulting your daughter?
Another article on this has already shown that the DNA on these innocents has already helped apprehend those that go onto commit a crime. And comparing it to a GPS tracker is wrong, that would be an clearly be an obtrusive deterrent, where as a DNA database is a quick sample and that’s it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: To all the potential criminals

I’m calling on all those that “have nothing to hide” go straight to the police station and give them a DNA sample along with every piece of info that could potentially convict you of a crime. After all, you have nothing to hide.

Give them your credit report, your bank accounts, your medical records and give the police complete access to your information on line, passwords, account numbers, everything. Don’t be a hypocrite, you have nothing to hide OR do you?

If you don’t do this, I have to assume you have something to hide and should be treated as a “potential” criminal.

Anonymous Coward says:


“Did you miss the part about this being in the UK?”

But the USA Gov likes to extend the Constitution to other
countries. Mmmm.. oil… They need to be free, like us! BOMB BOMB BOMB!!!

except is the cases of.. Hmmm.. can’t unfairly detain ppl.. lets build a prison in another country! and claim you have no rights because you’re in another country now.

RD says:


Well said. I get so tired of the hypocritards on here that insist that being safe is better than being free, and that only criminals have something to hide. Put your money where your mouth is. Give all your personal details to the police right now, including your movements to and from work, recreation, every person you know and your relationship to them, how often you download anything and what type, what sites you surf, and every interest and hobby you have, including the “naughty” ones you dont speak of. Put that out to the hypocritards and you will get NOT ONE OF THEM willing to do it. So, to all of those people, SHUT YOUR CAKEHOLE and stop trying to rush the world into another police state.

Private Information says:

DNA and IP

Your DNA (And your IP address) are both public information, in my mind. As public as your eye color, your first and last name, and your various identifying features. So… I don’t see why it’s a human rights violation to keep a record of someone’s DNA. I can see how it would be to, say, USE a record of someone’s DNA to deny them employment (Like it’s a violation of human rights to use skin tone or eye color to deny employment) but… well…. jeez, so you’re in police files, so what?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: DNA and IP

It’s quite simple. To record your eye colour, hair style, name, etc., they just need to look at you or ask you your name. To take your DNA, they have to take something from your body – be it saliva, hair, whatever. If you are forced to give this up having comitted no crime, that’s a human rights violation.

As for “well, you’re in police files, so what?”, that’s an extremely naive statement. You’re assuming that all the data on you in the database is accurate and will never lead to a case of mistaken arrest (good luck getting your DNA overturned as evidence if that happens). You’re assuming that the data will never be sold off to 3rd parties and misused (sorry, sir, you have a genetic 4% chance of developing testicular cancer so just pay up the extra $500 for health insurance). You assume that all the data will be used correctly with no cock-ups, no corruption and no risk. There isn’t a single current police procedure that matches that description.

Maybe these things aren’t likely, but they’re a lot more likely if they have your DNA on file than if not. No innocent person should ever be forced to give these things up, and even guilty parties should only have it done in order to solve/prevent future crimes and for no other purpose.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: DNA and IP

But using DNA for insurance premiums would be a violation of human rights (Like charging black males more for insurance). Still, even if the holder leaks like a seive, you leave your DNA wherever you go.

And anyway it’s not a full DNA record, it’s about 12 important markers. 2 out of every million share a matching set of those records. It goes up in odds if they’re related. These markers seem to have little effect on apperence and the like.

John (profile) says:

Like other records

And like some other posters are pointing out, how is DNA significantly different from other forms of unique information that police keep on you, such as fingerprints, mug shots, and such?
If DNA samples are not significantly different that fingerprints, does this mean all police forces have to delete their fingerprint databases?

The main benefit of these databases is to compare suspects to people who have been previously arrested. If the police only have a DNA sample at the crime scene, how else are they going to match it?
Ah, so that’s why these guys want their DNA removed: so they can keep committing crimes and the police won’t have their DNA on file.

Fuchsia says:

“A European court”? Aw, come on, Mike, you’re better than that! There are only two courts in the world that could qualify as being “European”: either the European Court of Justice (and the adjacent Court of First Instance) based in Luxembourg, belonging to the EU and with the jurisdiction to hear cases involving the interpretation and application of the Treaties establishing the European Communities or the European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg, belonging to the Council of Europe and competent over potential violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. Very simple, but very, very, very different.

In this case it was the ECHR.

David says:


I have always been very uneasy about the police retaining DNA for non-convicted folk, like every other bit of random information about a person that’s stashed away out there somewhere. I recently received an appeal letter from a charity, addresed to me personally, despite having recently moved house, so they couldn’t have got the details from the UK publicly-available electoral roll. The only people I have dealt with recently are the utilities and the bank. I found out that the UK outfit which has my details and sent out the letter is called Abacus Direct, according the charity. Where did they get them from? Anyone in the UK know about this firm?

Marcus Lasance (user link) says:

DNA removal innocent people

The do-gooders that claim they have nothing to fear and happily would volunteer their DNA have no perception of the trauma and stigma of being innocent yet maliciously or stupidly arrested by PC plod, who nowadays prefers not to leave his/her desk to investigate but would rather solve crimes based on his/her prejudices and ‘hints’ from a high tech computer system.

Also the UK security agencys will happily ‘swap’ such data bases with those of other countries, that contain only convicted criminals and ‘known’ terrorists.

Now all of the sudden you are classified as one of thoses by association in those countries!

More on IdentitySpace (just Google it)

dorothy reid says:

DNA retention by police

on the 25th August 2007 I was racially abused by three young asian boys inspite of the fact that thre was at least thirty witnesses to prove my innocence the police arrested me and told me that I could not say anything I know that someone at the police station ordered my arrest even before the officers got to my house. I was kept in cells for several hours and all info retained on a police computer. I am hoping to commence legal proceding against this force and I would like any info on thelegal company that represented these two men

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