Dutch Chief Of Police Suggests National DNA-Database For All Citizens

from the bad-idea-of-the-day dept

The chief of police of the greater Rotterdam area has called for the creation of a DNA-database for all 16.6 million Dutch citizens. There is already a DNA-database in existence, but it only contains the DNA of 11,000 people since the policy is to only take DNA from people sentenced to prison for at least four years.

According to the chief of police the privacy of civilians is not as important as tracking down criminals, stating that society is "too careful" and that "if you want to make the world safer, there's a price to pay." In a statement released later he added that safety is partly paid for by reducing privacy.

Of course, one could argue that it's not the privacy-concerned people being "too careful," but that there are some people that are so obsessed with security that they're willing to have others pay the price in giving up their privacy. Such a database will not prevent crime, since most crimes don't originate from rational risk-calculation. Any errors in the database could also have disastrous effects on people's lives in the case of a mistaken identity for instance, not to mention the implications of potential function creep. It really is a big price to pay for a small piece of security in one of the safest places in the world.

After a few hours of outrage from civilians and politicians, the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security released a statement that they do not support the plan and stated that it was not the first time such ideas have been suggested. It is probably not the last time, either.

Filed Under: dna, netherlands, privacy


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  1. icon
    cabal (profile), 16 Mar 2011 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re: Paranoia...?

    "It's what? No the government's role is to create a stable structure in which commerce can exist, not to have anything to do with commerce itself"

    -- Really? I didn't realize we were discussing the Aristotlian ideal of a government, or that I'd suddenly been transported to an Adam Smith fantasy 'laissez faire' land. The US government (and most others) specifically regulates taxes, imposes tariffs, trade restrictions and a number of other efforts in order to create a positive advantage for national commerce. When examined at thier core, most laws provide benefits explicitly for commerce. Heck, supporting commerce is in article 1 of NASA's charter.

    "and its role is not to protect consumer rights, but to protect all the rights of its citizens without any prejudice to a subset."

    Ahh. My mistake. I guess institutions like the FDA, FCC, OSHA, FAA don't exist to regulate the relationship between consumers and providers. And apparently some citizens are not consumers, so I guess they would be a 'prejudiced subset'. Modern governments exist to define thier own limits and the relationship between consumption and commerce. Everything else is window dressing.

    "No, they really shouldn't. Not without the permission of everyone involved and certainly not with the help of the government without permission."


    It's a good thing the government doesn't award research contracts and publish results. Or publish census data, or publish resources or economic reports or resource or labor statistics or national comparisons or reports on how the laws of other countries are impacting the sale of our intellectual property. By the way, many of those things use YOUR data (at the very least in aggregate form). Without your explicit permission. Would it be so unreasonable to consider this data would be accessible with at least the same level of controls as national tax data (which can be published in 'anonymous' groups small enough to identify individuals)? At no point did I suggest willy nilly letting a national database of genetic information be posted on teh web for any and all to utilize. Any effort to imply so is disingenous at best.

    "Every good usage I can think of for such a database doesn't involve knowing who the person you are studying is."

    Well, it's probably a good thing you're not in charge of research and development. But just because you can't think of a good reason doesn't mean there aren't any. Many of our most profound innovations are derived from someone else identifying uses for something someone else discovered and determined to be 'useless'.

    "I choose not to give them another weapon against me thank you they are already significantly and sufficiently well armed."


    Ok. So you have the 'fear'. But, like I said in my post "what other consequences can you envision that would outweigh the conceivable benefits of a genuine database containing the minutae of the human genome?" I'm not asking if you have an uneasy feeling in your gut. Your gut is full of excrement. You can choose to listen, but the advice typically stinks.

    I seriously don't understand the resistance to this. It strikes me as similar to the 'fear' of a national ID plan [which typically is heralded by calls of 'the number of the beast!' or 'One World government'!]. I want to understand... but it strikes me as a Tofflerian 'Future Shock' evaluation rather than a rational stance, full of emotional but semantically null arguments that illustrate an fear of change.


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