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Scientists Learn To Fabricate DNA Evidence

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the tossing-a-bag-of-maryjane-in-the-back-seat dept.

Biotech 256

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that it is possible to fabricate blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor, and even to construct a sample of DNA to match someone's profile without obtaining any tissue from that person — if you have access to their DNA profile in a database. This undermines the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. 'You can just engineer a crime scene,' said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper. 'Any biology undergraduate could perform this.' The scientists fabricated DNA samples in two ways. One requires a real, if tiny, DNA sample, perhaps from a strand of hair or a drinking cup. They amplified the tiny sample into a large quantity of DNA using a standard technique called whole genome amplification. The other technique relies on DNA profiles, stored in law enforcement databases as a series of numbers and letters corresponding to variations at 13 spots in a person's genome. The scientists cloned tiny DNA snippets representing the common variants at each spot, creating a library of such snippets. To prepare a phony DNA sample matching any profile, they just mixed the proper snippets together. Tania Simoncelli, science adviser to the American Civil Liberties Union, says the findings were worrisome. 'DNA is a lot easier to plant at a crime scene than fingerprints,' says Simoncelli. 'We're creating a criminal justice system that is increasingly relying on this technology.'"

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256 comments

And I'll be the first to say: (4, Insightful)

rekenner (849871) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102153)

Well, fuck.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102177)

Careful with that, you might leave an incriminating DNA sample.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102381)

in yo momma!

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102547)

Careful with that, you might leave an incriminating DNA sample.

Holy shit, maybe that means that OJ Simpson didn't do it after all!

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102941)

rekenner: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (5, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103419)

However complicated this may be it still means that the chain of evidence is important.

And if a case rests only on DNA it's never a strong case because we all leave traces of ourselves all the time. The best DNA can do is to exclude you from a location, because if your DNA is nowhere to be found it's likely that you weren't there (or weren't wearing those pesky gloves).

It is of course possible to frame someone by planting their faked DNA somewhere, but on the other hand there are other methods to do that too. A tazer and a syringe will allow you to get a good sample.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (2, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102197)

Yuppers, reading that just spoiled my afternoon. Thanks Slashdot for letting me know YET AGAIN that the PTB (Powers That Be) have yet again let me down and failed to stand/live up to my expectations.

Well, fuck.

Totally agree. Well, fuck.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102927)

Actually it just means it comes down to the integrity of the people involved for the most part. And as for planting dna evidence at a crime scene well damn you don't need much access to the person you are trying to frame in order to get enough DNA anyway.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (4, Insightful)

silanea (1241518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102969)

Actually it just means it comes down to the integrity of the people involved for the most part. [...]

Therefore the "Well, fuck.".

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (4, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102261)

This doesn't change much, it's still much easier for "them" to frame you by drugging you and leaving you at the scene of a murder, then anonymously tipping the authorities off. Just like they did to OJ to try to prevent another "Naked Gun" from being made.

("They" may be completely evil, but you can't fault their sense of humor.)

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (3, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102661)

Actually it is worse than that!

Here is why...

With a fingerprint we have always had doubt because it could be planted.

But with technology and DNA we are 100% sure! Well you get the idea, right? We trust technology so much that common sense goes out the window and hence if the beeping gadget on the floor says true, well then it must be true!

This has always worried me...

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (5, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102787)

Well, here in Germany, the police has searched quite some time for the "phantom of Heilbronn" - a women which apparently was involved with a lot of otherwise unrelated crimes at very different places. Well, after several years it turned out that the DNA was not from someone involved in the crime, but from someone involved in fabricating the cotton buds used to take the DNA probes.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (3, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103367)

Alibi for perfect crime: get a job in cotton bud factory.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (2, Insightful)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102829)

yes...we have doubt about fingerprints NOW, but at a point in time people were 100% certain in fingerprint evidence. This a very logical procession of events. There will be nothing that will ever be 100% reliable.

That's called progress.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103487)

Don't forget bullet matching [sfgate.com] which I'm sure there are plenty of poor bastards rotting in jail RIGHT NOW because some FBI guy got on the stand with a nice 3 piece suit and said "This test tells us with 100% certainty that the bullet found in the victim was from the box of ammo found in the suspects home".

That is why I hope this story about DNA gets plastered all over the news. Juries just love any kind of gadget that takes out the guesswork and lets them just not think. And anyone who has had dealings with the cops for any length of time knows that crooked cops and prosecutors that care more about using cases as a stepping stone to higher office instead of justice aren't exactly rare. cases should be built on a preponderance of the evidence, not on some magic tech that solves the case instantly, which is what DNA has been, like bullet matching and fingerprints before it.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102761)

OHSHI-

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (1)

Gubbe (705219) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102961)

Gesundheit!

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (1)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102795)

I agree, but it was only question of time. If you're (as human race) researching cloning it's logical that dna replication will be discovered along the way.
It's like when tv was invented it was logical and very foreseeable that color tv's will exist at some point in time.

Then again this will make crime series interesting again.
CSI writers rejoice.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (5, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102891)

Well, fuck.

I'm alarmed too. But this news is not entirely awful. It just means that DNA is no longer quite so useful in proving that a person is guilty. It is still perfectly useful in the much more important task of proving not guilty.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (4, Insightful)

pato101 (851725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102991)

Yeah, insightful, I agree. However, let me point that people are supposed to be not-guilty until demonstrated otherwise. Of course, in practice, having non-guilty evidences is very important.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (3, Interesting)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103109)

The important question is, how many innocents have been framed?

I've always been sceptical about DNA proof. Not because I knew that samples could be manipulated like this but the unwavering belief that DNA traces at a crime sceen were indicative of involvement.

Take this example: A man kills a woman. You happen upon the scene just as the murderer has left. The victim is in her death throes. Now I don't know about you people, but my first instinct would be to try and help. To do so, I'd have to get close and touch her. Now imagine her clawing at me. She is dying, after all.

Now police finds you with a dead woman, your DNA under her fingernails, the knife used is lying mere feet away from you without any fingerprints or DNA traces.

How do you talk your way out of this one? Nobody could prove that you were the murderer, but there are some damning clues there, wouldn't you say? That's what scares me about 'foolproof' CSI methods. For each one I could think of a scenario that would incriminate the wrong person. What I missed with DNA was a certain scepticism. People went "His DNA was on her? Well, he must be guilty then..."

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (1, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103445)

Another better case is the twin paradox - or just cases where you have a small population with a lot of inbreeding.

In cases like these you may have to make sure that you get a better match than usual to point out or exclude someone.

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103377)

It just means that DNA is no longer quite so useful in proving that a person is guilty. It is still perfectly useful in the much more important task of proving not guilty.

Huh? The principle is that you ONLY have to prove someone guilty. They're supposed to be innocent by default.

And I'll be the first to say: (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103145)

Well, fuck.

As a friend of someone who was wrongfully incarcerated based upon DNA evidence, I say:

Well, fuck!!

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103183)

Yeah on one hand you take away what was once very good evidence (in states/countries with the death penalty it would be nice to be sure the sentenced person actually did it =x ) and on the other hand the government loses some power over the people. I honestly don't know if that is good or bad :/

Re:And I'll be the first to say: (1)

Nialin (570647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103283)

Well, fuck.

My thoughts exactly!

I guess (3, Funny)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102181)

they have to rewrite next season of CSI because of this

Re:I guess (5, Funny)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102375)

Looks like the writers just...
puts on sunglasses
...soiled their genes.

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHH!!!

Re:I guess (2, Insightful)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103173)

Not until hotshot defense lawyers figure out the best ways to exploit the issue in a real context.

If you have enemies... (2, Interesting)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102183)

What sort of budget do they have to have to do this to you? How much will that go down in the next 5, 10 and 20 years? Hmm...

Re:If you have enemies... (2, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102255)

You'd be surprised how much of this stuff can be done on the cheap if you know what you're doing.

I'm surprised it's taken this long for someone to do this stunt when you consider it's been some time since they've created a synthetic duplicate of the genomes in a microbe. (In theory, they could have recreated any microbe they had the complete genome stored for, more or less.) It's only a small conceptual step from doing that stuff to faking DNA evidence.

Oh well, guess we know what surprise twist CSI will have next season.

Re:If you have enemies... (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102303)

"This episode of CSI has been rated Classified by the NSA. Please standby for the commercials at their regularly scheduled times. Viewers are advised to wait quietly, unmarked black vans are on their way".

Re:If you have enemies... (2, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102499)

Couldn't the defense though just demand that they test something else? Like mitochondrial DNA? It might be slower but if your conviction hangs in the balance then they could splurge on proving it wasn't your DNA. You might come up as a false positive as a suspect but then actually be cleared anyway.

That being said, just because your DNA was present doesn't mean you commited the crime. Especially in a murder trial. After all they could also obain your blood through other means and just directly plant real hair and blood probably easier than manufacturing blood. A little social engineering is probably easier than genetic engineering.

Re:If you have enemies... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102267)

As a biochemistry grad student, I'd figure I'd need a month or so and could do it for less than $10,000 in materials not including a bit of a practice/training.

Materials - it costs about $0.15/base for small DNA strands, or $1/base for longer (>150 base) if you order from one of many companies. Enzymes run ~$100/enzyme good for about 50 reactions. You'd need about 5 or 6 critical enzymes. The PCR machine could be had for $500, or you could go old school with water baths and a timer. I bet I could get decent results with about $5-10,000 (not including labor, which would take a bit of time).
ï

Once you've created a library of the 'snippets' it would be almost trivial to clone up large mixed populations with the right signatures. (Trivial meaning less than a week, and a few hundred dollars).

As for price going down in the future - VERY fast. The tools to make/reshape DNA are still a bit arcane but have recently become both flexible and robust. There is an entire sector of private companies devoted to making DNA encoding & manipulation easier, faster and cheaper. Ordering 10,000-base strand now costs $1/base, but I would bet it pushes $0.10 within 5 years. Building it up from smaller (~100-bases) sequences is currently a bit of an art, but is not 'hard'. I would bet that that process will become much less arcane and therefore much more automated/programmable within the next 10 years to make that a matter of days of robot incubation rather than a month of grad-student labor.

Re:If you have enemies... (2, Funny)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102507)

Oh dear. I can just imagine it on Craigslist:

NEW PACKAGE for 2009! Contract hit + framing of your choice! Just $15,000!

Re:If you have enemies... (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102875)

I bet I could get decent results with about $5-10,000

I can afford $5!!

That's a widely ranged price there...

Re:If you have enemies... (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102467)

Everything is just a matter of time. After all Watson, Crick, Wilkins and Franklin got, or should of gotten, Nobel prizes for extracting DNA. Now you can do that at home. [sciencebuddies.org]
The problem for this would be getting access to a database with the info, so it would probably be easier to punch the person in the nose to get a blood sample and duplicate the DNA from that.

Re:If you have enemies... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102849)

The problem for this would be getting access to a database with the info, so it would probably be easier to punch the person in the nose to get a blood sample and duplicate the DNA from that.

No not really. There are enough private investigators you can hire, with ties to law enforcement. For exmaple, there are a few investigators around here that used to work for various secret agencies. They now cater to large companies. They use their still exiting ties to investigate their targets if their client is paying enough.

The bigger and more often used DNA databases get, the easier it is going to be to access them. How hard is it to get the car owner from a license plate?

Or to phrase it properly... (5, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102215)

Company selling test to detect whether this has happened shows off a tech demonstration of why their product is necessary.

Re:Or to phrase it properly... (1)

wanax (46819) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102413)

or, where the fuck are my lawyers? or to put into relevance for the rich dipshit that most likely first gets away first..are mine methylated or not? given the issue that the same line of DNA research is really promising (see fakery) there will be a window to turn this into law enforcement's best approach, and then it will fail like all the others.. when are we going to remember rational policy?

Re:Or to phrase it properly... (2, Interesting)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102451)

Damn, I thought you were joking. Then I read TFA and saw that you were right. Dude - you're psychic!

Re:Or to phrase it properly... (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103483)

Or, to phrase it more efficiently, "kdawson".

Take this with a grain of salt... (5, Insightful)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102229)

Ok folks, don't get yourselves in a tizzy over this.

If you read the article (yeah, I know, it's against Slashdot rules, but give a try anyway) you'll see that all this hype originates from a company that has a product to detect faked DNA evidence, that they hope to sell to forensics labs.

The simple fact is that if someone wants to plant your DNA at a crime scene, there are many possible ways for them to obtain *real* DNA to use for that purpose. They aren't going to go through the hassle of creating fake DNA...

Re:Take this with a grain of salt... (1)

wgoodman (1109297) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102315)

so explain to me then, how it's easier to obtain a huge thwaq of semen from a person, and leave it all over/in a victim vs finding any other sort of DNA and faking it?

Re:Take this with a grain of salt... (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102463)

Well, depends on how you dress.

Re:Take this with a grain of salt... (1)

24-bit Voxel (672674) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102713)

The assumption you are making is that they need sperm to get your DNA.

Is it hot in the interrogation room? That glass you drank from has your spit on it.

Need to take a piss? Better clean up after yourself.

Had a smoke? Spit on the smoke.

Getting your DNA is easy, and they don't have to take your pants off. They can easily get hair when they search you, all clothes are bound to have a few.

Now if someone is going to the trouble of faking or planting your DNA, you're fucked. End of story. Who cares how it's going down?

Unless your name is Jason Bourne I don't think you have to worry about this anytime soon however. I don't see the boys in blue pulling this off, nor wanting to.

Re:Take this with a grain of salt... (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102847)

Unless your name is Jason Bourne I don't think you have to worry about this anytime soon however.

Frak!

What? Jason? No, no. You must have me mistaken with someone else.

I'm... Bond. James Bond.

Frak!

Re:Take this with a grain of salt... (1)

Peter Steil (1619597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102317)

Not necessarily true. Haven't you noticed that a (hopefully small) number of police investigators aren't worried so much with catching a criminal but convicting someone? Now try this, DNA data banks are generally comprised of people who have broken the law previously.

Now let's say I happen to stumble upon a large scale meth lab that the public knows about it, whats better...coming up with nothing...or somehow finding DNA of a convicted meth cook?

Re:Take this with a grain of salt... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102367)

Or you really really really know person A is guilty and they did bad stuff in the past, but ...
A trip to another city and the right lab, your re elected and on the way to be AG, then up into the sate and federal game.
10-20K of never reported cash can really get your political ambitions rolling it seems.

Re:Take this with a grain of salt... (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102473)

I was about to say that. If you want to frame someone, don't try to make sure you have an alibi while he doesn't. Collect his cigarette stubs, go through his comb and collect his hair, his chewing gums, his used condoms...

If you're a rapist, a trash bin next to a sleazy motel can be your getouttajail card.

All because we take DNA evidence as gospel. It's impossible to fail. Your DNA was there, so you were there. I don't even want to know how many innocent people are held behind bars (or worse, have been executed) based on planted DNA evidence.

I'm a slashdotter, you insensitive clod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102835)

Collect his cigarette stubs,

I don't smoke!

go through his comb and collect his hair,

I'm a slashdotter, I don't use a comb!

his chewing gums,

I don't use bubble gum!

his used condoms...

HAH! No worries there!

I think I'm safe from getting framed.

Re:I'm a slashdotter, you insensitive clod (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103117)

You're a slashdotter?

I wait 'til you replace your keyboard next time. Or I offer to clean up your room, for really, really cheap (and I won't even complain when having to handle those crusty tissues or socks).

Hey, nobody said it wouldn't be grossy or yucky. But then, as any old school dumpster-diving hacker will tell you, it's not the early bird that catches the worm, it's the bird that doesn't mind getting his feathers greasy.

Re:Take this with a grain of salt... (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103079)

You seem to know an awful lot about this...

Where exactly were you on the night of July 22nd?

Re:Take this with a grain of salt... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103103)

According to the DNA I shed there in that night, at a friend's house. But everything he says about it is a complete lie!

Much easier than I thought. (5, Funny)

hotdiggity (987032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102243)

The scientists cloned tiny DNA snippets representing the common variants at each spot, creating a library of such snippets. To prepare a phony DNA sample matching any profile, they just mixed the proper snippets together.

Really? It's that easy? God, I'm an idiot. After I cloned the tiny snippets of the common variants, creating my library, I just sat there staring at them and thinking "What the hell do I do now?"

Re:Much easier than I thought. (4, Insightful)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102283)

It means that they didn't need to stitch them into one DNA chain, they "just mixed them".

That's quite important.

Re:Much easier than I thought. (1)

Rand310 (264407) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102295)

It actually is that easy. You have a vial full of the snippets that you bought for ~$1/base pair if they're long, or much less if they're short. And you mix them. You don't have to even have the original person's DNA. You can send off an ascii text file full of A's, T's, G's, and C's to the right company and within a week have a vial on your desk with a relative shit-ton of DNA in it. Order enough of them, mix them into a spray bottle and spray around a room. Not too hard really. DNA is hardy - you don't need any special stuff to keep it around, preserve, or maintain it.

Re:Much easier than I thought. (4, Funny)

Pessimist+Cynic (1587497) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102359)

Hey, I just had the craziest idea.

Convert any binary file to base 4 and then convert that to:
0 = A, 1 = T, 2 = G, 3 = C
Or something like that.

And then order a vial of it from one of these companies.
Now you can finally keep all the porn you want inside a tiny container much smaller than a hard drive.
Kind of impractical to access it, granted, but still.
Would it work, or would the "just mix it" part really mix it?
(please reply quickly, I'm running out of hard drive space)

Re:Much easier than I thought. (1)

Rand310 (264407) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102377)

It would work, but you'd have to be able to divide it into 5000 bit strands, and be able to reassemble the data from thousands of 'mixed' strands. Also costs a lot... Current HD space is what, as low as $1/8,000,000,000 bits, current DNA sequencing costs about $1/bit for more than 100 bits in a row.

Re:Much easier than I thought. (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102525)

Now you can finally keep all the porn you want inside a tiny container much smaller than a hard drive.

Ewww. You really should wash that out every once in a while...

Re:Much easier than I thought. (2, Funny)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102779)

Hey, I just had the craziest idea.
Convert any binary file to base 4 and then convert that to: 0 = A, 1 = T, 2 = G, 3 = C Or something like that.
And then order a vial of it from one of these companies. Now you can finally keep all the porn you want inside a tiny container much smaller than a hard drive.


If it were practical such storage devices would already exist. Probably as some sort of "cyborg computer". Would probably also have the entertainments industry frantically researching how to make an artifical organism and lobbying to outlaw making their content into plasmids.

Re:Much easier than I thought. (5, Funny)

mrboyd (1211932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102947)

You can already keep all the porn you want in DNA form. It's called a girlfriend*.


* or boyfriend or whatever floats your boat (within legal limit of your country of residence)

Re:Much easier than I thought. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29103223)

Well it COULD work, but the fact that it would mix could be a bit of a problem*

Wait, who am i kidding, this could be a pornographers best dream ever, this single vial of DNA storage could create so many new variants of porn.
How about some of that chair sex while doing a handstand on top of a toilet in Las Vegas with midgets? Oh hell yes.

Re:Much easier than I thought. (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102691)

You don't have to even have the original person's DNA.

All you need is some which will give the right results when manipulated in a certain way. Indeed the majority of a person's DNA is likely to be irrelevent.

DNA is hardy - you don't need any special stuff to keep it around, preserve, or maintain it.

Especially when it's not inside a cell which also contains things passing microbes are likely to consider "food".

Re:Much easier than I thought. (1)

wgoodman (1109297) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102321)

Apparently that answers the question of "does it blend?" once and for all!

Re:Much easier than I thought. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102349)

God, I'm an idiot. After I cloned the tiny snippets of the common variants, creating my library, I just sat there staring at them and thinking "What the hell do I do now?"

....what would Jesus do?

Re:Much easier than I thought. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102511)

....what would a poodle, a blond, or a rabbi do?

Re:Much easier than I thought. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102879)

Compare his own DNA with that of other humans in order to identify the divine DNA.

Coming to an eBay seller near you! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102263)

Did you fuck up an investigation? Need to get some niggers or latinos put away for giving you shit? Found your best friend banging your wife and you want to teach him a lession?

Order your DNA CYA kit today!

Your DNA CYA kit will contain all the necessary "stuff" to implicate your mark!

With the DNA CYA kit, you'll be busting everyone that's given you shit. What does that get you? Well dumb ass, with the DNA CYA kit, you'll become the "expert" in gathering DNA evidence in your precinct! Soon you won't be sitting in some skanky smelling patrol car, instead you'll be sitting behind the desk looking to become the next chief!

Order your DNA CYA kit today or your "good buddy" will become the next chief!

i am sure it has already been done (0)

markringen (1501853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102269)

i am sure it has already been done. there is nothing revolutionary here, just like human cloning has been done successfully without our knowledge. everything u can imagine has been done.

Re:i am sure it has already been done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102685)

I don't know. I can imagine quite a it.

What? Science can fabricate results? (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102309)

Wouldn't it be easier to just fabricate a criminal justice system? Or even reality itself? Oops, too late...

Re:What? Science can fabricate results? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102395)

That was asked in Australia a lot in the 1970-90's.
You just need to present the evidence in the right way and tone and its done.
The court system stays pure, the graduates are happy, the judges clean.
The cops just needed to make sure their verballing skills where good:)
Video helped but ... :)

You can pry my TAQ out of my cold, dead cycler (5, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102337)

Whole genome replication [wikipedia.org] seems to mostly center around Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). PCR is an incredibly versitile technology. PCR machines cycle test tubes through specific temperatures, the thermal cyclers are cheap compared to a lot of lab equipment but still in the thousands of dollars. To do a PCR also requires some type of polymerase, nucleotides, some solutions, and short primer oligonucleotides. These are all items that aren't prohibitively expensive but aren't household items either.

Maybe I'm being too ACLU/tinfoil hat, but I'm getting a sinking feeling that someone eventually is going to try to slap some regulations on PCR, or at some point in the future, having access to a thermal cycler and PCR materials is going to be seen by law enforcement as a reason to be suspicious of you. And I think that would be a real crime. I could see a future where thermal cyclers come down in price even more, maybe high school kids will start tinkering around with PCR as kids from yesteryear played with chemistry sets before we decided they could be used to make bombs and should be banned.

Maybe not. Anyway, I think we should nip it in the bud if there's any hint that law enforcement starts thinking you need to have a good reason to manipulate DNA, just so they can keep their evidence unquestionably true.

Re:You can pry my TAQ out of my cold, dead cycler (1)

uuddlrlrab (1617237) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102449)

Young punks running around, vial fulls of polymerase chains, splicing and forking like there's no tomorrow...

Re:You can pry my TAQ out of my cold, dead cycler (2, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102671)

The technique has already been shown to be flawed. The only suspect charged with the Omagh bombing [wikipedia.org] has released after the trial collapsed because the DNA evidence has been amplified and was shown to have as much in common with his DNA as some random schoolboy living in England*.

Like fingerprints, it turns out DNA evidence is not some kind of magic irrefutable proof. CSI doesn't mention it much but any evidence which has to be interpreted or go through some process to produce a result is never going to be 100% reliable.

*Yes, we keep children's DNA on file here.

mod do3n (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102417)

Are you GAY 'first post' and ea5y - only Moronic, dilettante

It all becomes clear... (4, Interesting)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102471)

1) Pass "homeland security" type law requiring people to register and submit DNA for national database.

2) Keep an eye out for political dissidents.

3) When they appear, have covert government agents commit crimes and plant "teh incontrovertible DNS evidence" of the dissident at the scene.

4) Dissident is taken out of the picture in a way that looks completely legitimate.

5) Bonus: Add extra brutality to their crimes to make the dissident (and by extension any of their ideas) less attractive to anyone else.

Re:It all becomes clear... (3, Funny)

anarchyboy (720565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102545)

You go through all the trouble of collecting their DNA samples and then arrest them based on their domain lookups? seems a bit convoluted

Re:It all becomes clear... (4, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102647)

You're missing the point.

By planting evidence in an actual crime, you don't have to arrest them under a controversial Orwellian law about "having the wrong books" or "looking at the wrong websites" where they become the new Leonard Peltier, Nelson Mandela, -- i.e. a political figure for people to wrap their cause around. They're just another rapist/murderer/bomber at that point. Nobody will want to be seen as a supporter of them because of being associated with a criminal, and the dissident will be written off as crackpot.

Re:It all becomes clear... (1)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102837)

Woosh

In one way, a sign of improvement? (1)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102487)

Maybe this can be interpreted as a sign that DNA technology is getting affordable and widespread the same way photo manipulation is now relatively easy with widespread access to image technologies like Photoshop. In the case of images, we can more easily fake them, but we also benefit from more advanced visual design around us.

In related news... (1)

JavaNPerl (70318) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102513)

The leading scientist in faked DNA evidence was joyful at the conviction of wife's killer. The prosecutor presented a mountain of DNA evidence and jurors only took 60 seconds to deliberate before delivering the guilty verdict. When the scientist was asked what his future plans were, he said that he was going to buy a lot of cool stuff with the payout from his wife's large insurance policy and marry his young and attractive lab assistant.

Re:In related news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102597)

When the scientist was asked what his future plans were, he said that he was going to buy a lot of cool stuff with the payout from his wife's large insurance policy and marry his young and attractive lab assistant.

...His wife was a dude? Trippy.

So let me get this straight. (1)

webreaper (1313213) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102521)

In order to 'engineer' a crime scene, to incriminate somebody by planting fake DNA, the first thing I need it a real, if tiny, DNA sample, perhaps from a strand of hair or a drinking cup. Then I use that to fake some DNA, which I place at the scene.

So can somebody tell my WTF, if I already have some legitimate DNA from the person I'm attempting to frame, I wouldn't just place that at the crime scene instead?

Re:So let me get this straight. (2, Insightful)

ppanon (16583) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102823)

So can somebody tell my WTF, if I already have some legitimate DNA from the person I'm attempting to frame, I wouldn't just place that at the crime scene instead?

You can also do it based on in the DNA information for the standard 13-site tests typically kept in databases. That effectively allows you to frame somebody without ever coming close to them. Which could be important if your target is a 250lb outlaw biker or a paranoid schizo with a criminal record. But as someone else pointed out, this isn't a surprise to anybody that has an understanding of how these tests work, as well as understanding the potential usefulness of DNA manipulation for motivation in advancement of the state of the art.

Did you give the police a sample of your kids' DNA in case they ever got lost or kidnapped? If you really are concerned about the extremely long odds that that would happen, you might have been better off taking the sample, freeze drying it in your freezer and putting it in a safety deposit box rather than handing it over so that it can go in a database somewhere. Seriously, if I were growing up now instead of decades ago, and later found my parents had done that when I was a child, I would be seriously angry. Because now that the police have the sample, they can retest it to match whatever increase in gene fragment sites is used to "decrease the chance of an accidental or falsified match". Storage is cheap enough that in the long run they'll probably wind up tracking all the thousands of possible human DNA gene variations since it's only about 20,000 or so genes. At which point someone can just fake up some introns and insert them randomly to make a pretty convincing copy without ever being near the intended target. Sounds ludicrous now, but it will be borderline trivial in another few decades. Five years ago, most people (particularly those in the law enforcement sphere) would have labeled the scenario described in the article as paranoia.

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

webreaper (1313213) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102897)

Did you give the police a sample of your kids' DNA in case they ever got lost or kidnapped?

No. And I wouldn't, even if I had kids, because I'm not a paranoid lunatic.

Do people really do that??!!?

Re:So let me get this straight. (1)

wwahammy (765566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103305)

Ya they do. Around here the police take DNA samples from kids during the annual "Take Back the Night" event for families. Parents line up to have their kids sampled for free just in case they get kidnapped.

Re:So let me get this straight. (4, Funny)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102859)

In order to 'engineer' a crime scene, to incriminate somebody by planting fake DNA, the first thing I need it a real, if tiny, DNA sample, perhaps from a strand of hair or a drinking cup. Then I use that to fake some DNA, which I place at the scene.

So can somebody tell my WTF, if I already have some legitimate DNA from the person I'm attempting to frame, I wouldn't just place that at the crime scene instead?

It helps to have the right sort of DNA. Say you want to frame someone for robbery, and you have their semen -- I guess you could argue that they are obsessive chronic masturbators and that's why their semen is all over the crime scene -- but otherwise, it would arguably raise less suspicion to find other sources of DNA.

So what you are saying is (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102595)

I you are rich enough and have access to the right things you can frame someone for murder. What will they come up with next.

How would this be delivered? (1)

Reidsb (944156) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102611)

Random DNA sprayed around a crime scene would just seem weird. Wouldn't they also have to make it seem real? IE fake blood, saliva, whatever, in the same places it would be found in a crime scene?

Re:How would this be delivered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102907)

My guess is, there are standardised tests to determine what kind of substance a liquid is. If you know the tests, you can cheat to manufacture artificial saliva/blood/etc.

This is not a real problem (3, Informative)

Biotech9 (704202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102643)

At the moment most (if not all) DNA profiling is done by examining STRs. STRs are specific spots in your DNA where a certain pattern of DNA is repeated a number of times. And the number of times it's repeated might be different for you from the STR at that spot from someone else.

So if you check many of these spots, you can make it extremely unlikely that someone else has all of these spots with the same number of repeats as you do. In the US they check 13 loci [wikipedia.org] . And this fake DNA (the stuff they advertise as being possible to make just by looking in the database, with no original genetic material) is just a load of these loci, with the correct number of repeats in there.

The reason it isn't much of a problem is that the technological bottlenecks that made the human genome project such a money pit are close to gone now. Taking a genetic sample and fully sequencing it shouldn't be that much of a problem in the next few years (I mean you can already do it [decodeme.com] for the price of a coat. To proof against fake evidence, many other SNPs or STRs can be checked instead, as a confirmation. Keeping a list of another 13 STRs to be used as confirmation would be a good start, having the loci known but not recording the results in databases to prevent this kind of counterfeiting.

Re:This is not a real problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102975)

You're just postponing the problem. If you adjust the tests to counter the cheat, you can adjust the cheat to counter the new test.

One side says "we'll simply test more" and the other replies "we'll simply forge more". It's the usual arms race of good guys vs. bad guys. Although it's getting increasingly difficult to find actual good guys.

Re:This is not a real problem (1)

Biotech9 (704202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103187)

Not necessarily, at the moment there is a database with the results of the STRs for the 13 (well known) loci that are tested. So if you have access to the database you can make a match for a specific person and fake evidence against them.

But, if you have a second group of 13 loci that are kept secret, and the records for these STRs are NEVER recorded, then anytime evidence needs to be checked, the results from both groups of STRs can be checked. That information would not be kept, so it would be impossible to fake it from a database. Why even limit it to 13 loci? Why not have a list of hundreds of STRs that can be checked to corroborate evidence?

This is no BIG news... (1)

viraltus (1102365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102675)

After all you can alter a crime scene taking DNA samples and magnify them from many sources like saliva in stamps or cups o just going through your rubbish, which is considerable easier to obtain and magnify than someone's DNA profile... I do not think in practice this makes big difference with how things were before.

you Fai7 it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29102687)

something co0l RAM) for about 20

This won't help you in court anyway (1)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29102995)

As it's illegal in the US to argue over the accuracy of DNA evidence. Despite the flaws in traditional DNA profiling, and stuff like this, you are not actually allowed to point any of this out in court as part of your defence.

DNA Profile as an evidence ... (1)

garry_g (106621) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103067)

If the artificially created DNA evidence was based on just the contents of a profile database, and the person incriminated is apprehended, wouldn't a DNA comparison of the fabricated and the real sample show major discrepancies? At least at that point a person should be able to prove that the DNA is not from him/her ... (of course, DNA being so highly regarded as infallible, it's a classic "guilty until proven innocent") ...

Of course this would not work for DNA created on the basis of existing DNA ...

DNA credibility (2, Insightful)

nomad-9 (1423689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29103181)

"This undermines the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. "
It doesn't. The credibility still lies with the lab scientists themselves handling the DNA samples, as the infamous OJ Simpson case showed.
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