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Human Rights Court Calls UK DNA Database a 'Breach of Rights' 206

psmears writes "Describing a judgment that is likely to rein in the scope of the UK DNA database, where at present the DNA of those arrested by the police is kept permanently (even if the people concerned are never convicted, or even charged), the BBC reports that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that keeping such people's DNA in the database 'could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society.'" Reader megla adds a link to the full text of the judgement.
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Human Rights Court Calls UK DNA Database a 'Breach of Rights'

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  • Not particularly, no. I don't really mind the government maintaining a DNA database.

    I would like it if they shared the data with the NIH, and I think that work on mapping the human genome is so very important that we can't trust private enterprise to explore all of the possible directions in which it could be taken.

    I mean, what is the government going to do with my DNA? Clone me? Invade my privacy by finding out what diseases I'm vulnerable to?

    I reject arguments that innocent people have nothing to fear from invasions of privacy, but objections to this don't even seem to be based on one of those.

  • by Huff ( 314296 ) <> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:41PM (#25994029) Homepage

    Whereas most people in the UK consider the Euro court of human rights to be a bunch of interfering busy bodys or jobsworths, and in general most of the rulings they come up with do come across as 'annoying'.
    Ruling like this however are the reason the court was set up. I do hope this ruling stands and that this court will continue to keep its eye on privacy issues like this and prove to the population in general that it does have a purpose.


  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:48PM (#25994135) Journal

    Err, you do realize that DNA matching can still be done if someone is still in the process of being tried for a crime, right? You can also keep the lab results of such matching forever... just not the DNA itself.

    The ruling only says that you can't keep it forever, not that you can't use whatever DNA you find/get during the process.


  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:57PM (#25994255)

    Are you kidding me? This is the government that loses data left, right and centre and you don't mind them maintaining your DNA?

    Then perhaps you'd like to hear about the case in the US where two men one white, one black both had the same genetic markers in the police database?

    or how about when you are called in for a crime you didn't commit like Jill Dando case where they matched the wrong guy's DNA. The evidence was so strong there right? The amount of DNA evidence was almost nothing yet the court was in the mindset of DNA == foolproof.

  • Re:Figures... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:58PM (#25994263) Journal

    Its an important part of "maintaining democracy" rather than so much of a part of it. The forces of power and greed will always migrate towards a fascist dictator or ruling class. The US is on it's way to being a democratically elected Social-Fascist society. Operating in the shadows is the only way to avoid this.

  • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @05:19PM (#25994533)
    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" - Benjamin Franklin

    The insight of those from hundreds of years ago still amazes me.

    Wise men, no?
  • A debatable question. Maybe the Europeans should take samples of visiting Americans DNA and see if they match any crime scene samples in Europe. After all we know that DNA matches are 100% proof of guilt. Well apart from the 1 in 200,000 random match rate of course. How many Americans are there? 200 Million did you say. Excellent, our crime clear up rates will be significantly improved once we start banging up foreign nationals! The human right of privacy is all we have left against bad science in the field of information technology based criminology. Lets match your IP address against my corrupt file of kiddy porn sites shall we and put your children in state care. Or better still lets put you in gitmo because some war driving suicide bomber had the tools to crack your pathetic wpa encryption. good luck you trusting soul.

  • Re:Figures... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- ( 624050 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @06:29PM (#25995507) Journal

    I've been told that in Michigan if you are not convicted you can file to have your fingerprints pulled from the database. I don't know how it works elsewhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:44PM (#25996479)

    Have you ever heard of a census? In the UK, you can be fined £1000 for not taking part, and it includes both religion and sexuality. As for people wearing glasses, at the very least, everybody who gets their glasses through the NHS will be on record.

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:08PM (#25998423)

    Would someone who knows please explain how the [European Court of Human Rights] has jurisdiction over national laws?

    The same way the WTO has jurisdiction over the US -- they signed a treaty that said that they will abide by the decisions of the international body.

    Of course, unlike the states of the US, any country is significantly more free to simply ignore the rulings, thought not without impunity. Ignoring the ECHR could mean severe potential trade problems with the rest of Europe but could also just mean having to pay some fines every now and then. Heck, Italy gets dragged before the court regularly for failure to provide a speedy trial and just pays off the fines and ignores making changes to their entrenched legal system -- at least according to my law prof, they do.

  • by Another, completely ( 812244 ) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:28AM (#25999921)

    In one recent case, using fingerprints this way, the FBI arrested someone from Oregon for the Madrid train bombing. After 17 days in jail, he was released because Spanish police found the real source of the fingerprint. FBI apology here: []

    News coverage here [] (or do a search; there's enough out there).

    The evidence they presented was that his fingerprint partially matched one found on another continent. I don't think reports said he is known even to have left Oregon. What would have happened if the Spanish police had not been so successful? That's why it's dangerous to have these databases in place. Not because they can't be useful, but because they will be used incorrectly.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.