[Mb-civic] Genetic Privacy

Cheeseburger maxfury at granderiver.net
Thu Sep 9 08:30:09 PDT 2004

Genetic Privacy


In Britain, a national criminal database established in 1995 now contains 
2.5 million DNA samples. Countries including the United States and Canada 
are developing similar systems.

Jeffreys, who was knighted in 1994, welcomes DNA databases but has qualms 
about how the British one has been set up. He fears stored DNA samples 
could be used to extract information about a person's medical history, 
ethnic origin or psychological profile.

And he opposes the practice, approved by a British court in 2002, of 
retaining DNA samples from suspects who are acquitted, leading to a 
"criminal" database that contains many people guilty of no crime.

"My view is, that is discriminatory," Jeffreys said. "It works on a premise 
that the suspect population, even if innocent, is more likely to offend in 
the future."

Jeffreys advocates a truly national database including every individual, 
with strict restrictions on what information could be stored.

"There is the long-term risk that people can get into these samples and 
start teasing out additional information" about a person's paternity or 
risk of disease, he said. "The police have absolutely no right to that sort 
of information."


- Where has the sparrow gone now that I need its song.

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