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Inside England and Wales' DNA Regime

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the how-far-do-you-trust dept.

Privacy 141

Sockatume writes "The UK's Human Genetics Commission has published its report on the collection of DNA by the Police forces in England and Wales. Currently, Police collect DNA from every suspect in a case which could lead to a criminal record, and retain that material, which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled illegal. The government plans to keep all DNA samples for suspects from England, Wales and Northern Ireland for up to six years, except for DNA from individuals arrested during terrorism-related investigations, which will be retained forever. The report states that the police frequently performed arrests solely to collect DNA, that certain demographics (such as young, black men) were 'very highly over-represented,' that there was 'very little concrete evidence' that the DNA database had any actual use in investigating crime, and that the database contained material from individuals arrested in Scotland and Northern Ireland, outside its remit. Of the 4.5m individuals in the database, a fifth have never received any convictions or cautions from the Police. The report recommends that an independent advisory body oversee the database, and that laws be passed to limit the uses of the database, while tracking those with access to it, and making misuse of the information a criminal offence."

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For Starters the Obvious ... (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216138)

Police collect DNA from every suspect in a case which could lead to a criminal record ...

So they started with the politicians then?

I'm serious though, the people who passed this and put it into place should first enter their own DNA into the system as a sign of good faith and unwavering confidence that this system will never be used negatively to persecute anyone nor will it ever produce a false positive on a match.

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216262)

That's not a bad start; but it also isn't as useful as it sounds.

Cops aren't stupid(well, some definitely are; but even they possess a certain low cunning). Even if a politician, or some other Person Who Counts(tm) is enrolled in the big Orwellian database, they are going to get the kid-gloves-nice-and-polite-all-strictly-legal-and-by-the-book-certainly-you-are-entitled-to-see-your-lawyer treatment, rather than the "Yeah, and what is your overworked public defender going to do about it, shitbag?" treatment.

It is certainly better that they not be excluded entirely; but simple mandated inclusion isn't going to solve the problem that power and status counts when it comes to dealing with the cops(among numerous other entities).

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216554)

It's like the creator of COPS said about why he doesn't go after corporate crooks.

"It doesn't make good TV. When the police go to arrest someone like that, they act like he's on city council, which he may or may not be, and it's all very polite. Now, if you could get that same guy to rip his shirt off and jump out the window when the police show up, then that's good TV."

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216694)

I forget where I saw it; but I once ran across a spoof of the COPS formula, where a besuited white-collar criminal is having is face smashed into the hood of a limo...

Aside from Travel Adaptors and Passport (0, Offtopic)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217016)

You will find that travelling to the United Kingdom requires little more preparation than a visit to any other state. :-)

Consider your visit as you would to Delaware, only with PAL and and DVD Region 2.

Difficulties with Wireless are non-existant. Since laptops generally have auto-switching power supplies, a mains-adaptor for the socket is all you require. Get a proper, British one. These have a FUSE in the adaptor. British mains are of varying conditioning and quality. 240 Volts is manly, compared to a piddling 115v US, and arcs have occurred! The United lounge at Heathrow terminal one gave a nasty puff of ozone and a loud crack, when I unplugged from a socket there, last June.

Regarding customs inspections? Be reasonable. It is always harder dealing with the aggressive robots in U.S. ports than it is with the merely weary Sikh gentlemen and distracted, west-indian, ladies who will get there shift over as-soon-as-possible in Heathrow and Birmingham.

Re:Aside from Travel Adaptors and Passport (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217722)

One problem with the British socket is that it is possible to jam a European style plug into the socket.

trouble is after that abuse they tend not to make good contact with a British plug having been bent out of shape.

You can buy a very cheap adapter to convert between formats, honestly.

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217168)

I forget where I saw it; but I once ran across a spoof of the COPS formula, where a besuited white-collar criminal is having is face smashed into the hood of a limo...

You might be thinking of Reno 911 [imdb.com] . I don't recall seeing an episode where that happened, but it definitely sounds like the type of humour you see in that show, and I definitely have not seen all of the episodes of the series.

Just take it at birth like in the USSA (2, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216274)

Here in the United States they've taken your DNA from birth since the 1970's (even earlier if you were in the military or other government programs). Every state does it. They bury the "consent" form in the mountains of paperwork you need to sign while at the hospital. That's if they haven't gotten rid of the consent requirement. Minnesota got rid of parental consent in 1997.

Even though some states let you "opt out" by having them destroy the blood samples after the tests they still keep all the information obtained. They then sell that information to companies, who then patent your DNA. If you ever require gene therapy you'll have to pay that company a large sum to use your own DNA. Who knows what else they do to it.

http://www.cchconline.org/pdf/MINORITY%20REPORT%20Genetic%20Info%20-%20FINAL.pdf [cchconline.org]

Re:Just take it at birth like in the USSA (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216656)

What are the black helicopters used for?

Re:Just take it at birth like in the USSA (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216868)

What good would DNA have done them in the 1970s (or earlier)?

Re:Just take it at birth like in the USSA (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217038)

The DNA probably wasn't of much direct use back then. But I guess it could already be expected that it would be of more use later on. And it was probably much easier to pass such a law at times where you couldn't do that much with it.

Also note that most people born back than are still alive. And you'd probably have a much harder time to get their DNA now. And both facts could already be predicted quite easily back then.

Re:Just take it at birth like in the USSA (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217142)

Gene therapy requires the specific persons DNA because the part that is broken needs to be 'fixed' and reintroduced into the body. It would be silly to put someone else's DNA into your body. And of course it is expensive, it's still experimental!

DNA collection at birth must still be on a very limited scale, my state doesn't do it. Though we do keep criminal DNA records. In fact you can go to DNA.gov and look up the numbers for your state as well.

The Army collects DNA for "Identification purposes only". Just incase you don't belive me, he is sample text:

a. The Department of Defense (DOD) established the DNA Registry Program to aid in the identification of remains. DNA analysis will supplement fingerprint and dental panographic x-ray identification techniques.

          b. Medical personnel will collect blood from each soldier. Specimens will be stored at the DOD, DNA Repository and analyzed only when needed to assist with remains identification.

          c. The required sampling frequency is "one time only." The DOD, DNA Repository will store the specimens for the duration of the soldier's service. The soldier may request destruction after completing military obligation.

        d. Access to the stored specimens and DNA typing information will be strictly controlled to protect soldier privacy.

I find it hard to belive that citizens have less control over their DNA when dealing with corporations than Soldiers do with the Government they work for.

Re:Just take it at birth like in the USSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217352)

Only if you are born in a hospital. If you are born at home, you can tell the doctor to fuck off when he says he needs to take genetic samples.

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216470)

Exactly what I was going to say, although I would go farther. Every politician and police officer (public servant) has to have their families (spouse and children) DNA entered. Make sure they can't cover for little Johnny if he makes some mischief.

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (4, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216592)

So they started with the politicians then?

That could lead to a criminal record. If you're a politician you won't get a criminal record even if you violate human rights (case in point), torture people or commit war crimes unless you happen to be on the losing side in a war. DNA evidence would make no difference, with what passes for 'rule of law' in 'democratic countries', you could have their signature on a confession, video, multiple witnesses and live broadcasts of them torturing someone to death and a spokesperson would just go 'Mr. Politician does not condone torture' and they'd get away with it.

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30218276)

DNA evidence would make no difference

Unless the politician lies to a Grand Jury about an encounter with an intern...

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217796)

A good police force is one that commits fewer crimes than is solves.

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217854)

At least the police should be required to have their DNA in the database. That way any DNA contamination during crime scene investigation can be accounted for.

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30218814)

So should all employees [mwinkelmann.com] of companies that manufacture testing supplies for forensic and criminal investigation.

Re:For Starters the Obvious ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30218704)

They should collect DNA from all the Whales they can find, you know in case they go extinct. j/k

The same should be done (2, Interesting)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216152)

In the US too, and for fingerprinting as well.

Such evidence should only be collected without consent with a warrant and if the individual is not charged and convicted with a crime such evidence should be removed from any database/storage and destroyed/deleted. If it is taken with consent then the individual should have the right to ask that it be destroyed after the investigation is complete.

On a wider note many such police/law enforcement databases need to be more thoroughly regulated, including things such as "Do Not Fly" lists and terrorism suspects. There needs to be a clear legal way for both puting someone's name on the list, and removing it, as well there also needs to be a way for individuals to know why they are on any such list.

Re:The same should be done (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216254)

I agree. but it should be noted that in the USA the police cannot require you to "cooperate" unless they arrest you (though they will tell you otherwise). The only thing they can demand is that you not get in their way.

Re:The same should be done (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216294)

Luckily, the more battered you are by the time you reach the coroner, the greater the evidence that you were resisting arrest...

Re:The same should be done (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217748)

I agree. but it should be noted that in the USA the police cannot require you to "cooperate" unless they arrest you (though they will tell you otherwise). The only thing they can demand is that you not get in their way.

That doesn't seem to have been the case here [slashdot.org]

Re:The same should be done (1)

sorton9999 (958384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216298)

Right. In the U.S., fingerprints are kept indefinitely. At least in the local law enforcement offices. But they are viewable/searchable by other agencies as well. The reason they keep these is for identification purposes other than crimes such as after death or missing person, etc. I'm sure DNA will be kept for the same reasons.

Re:The same should be done (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217402)

Right. In the U.S., fingerprints are kept indefinitely.

Not always. I was charged with a crime that I didn't commit a number of years ago. When the grand jury cleared me I received an 'order of dismissal' from the court. Among other things, this order required any and all police or governmental agencies with copies of my prints, DNA and photograph to destroy them.

Of course I later had to give up my prints to get my concealed carry license, so they've got them anyway, but not as a result of my arrest....

Re:The same should be done (0, Flamebait)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216362)

On a wider note many such police/law enforcement databases need to be more thoroughly regulated, including things such as "Do Not Fly" lists and terrorism suspects.

You mean for people of middle east descent right?

There were no White, Black, or Asian terrorist attackers (for the 9/11, Cole, and Embassy attacks). The people we are fighting are Middle-East Muslims. The people that hijacked our planes, and blew them up or crashed them into buildings should be identified by their racial ethnicity.

Every time I fly, and see one of these God damned security assholes fucking with an old white/black/asian man or woman, I wish the TSA would all DIAF. Stop fucking pretending. Let the Middle-East Muslims cry racism/racial profiling. THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING. Profiling every single person from the Middle East.

Don't like it? Lucky for you the USA gives you the freedom to leave. I suggest you do. We don't want you here because you are a burden on our society. How fucking dare you make us act like whites/blacks/asians are our enemy simply because we've fallen prey to Political Correctness. Fuck you Middle-East Muslims, and fuck you liberals for getting us into this God awful mess.

Re:The same should be done (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216474)

Profiling every single person from the Middle East.

Don't like it? Lucky for you the USA gives you the freedom to leave.

Actually, our laws and Constitution don't allow for it. If *you* don't like it, *you* need to leave.

Re:The same should be done (0, Troll)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216640)

Profiling every single person from the Middle East. Don't like it? Lucky for you the USA gives you the freedom to leave.

Actually, our laws and Constitution don't allow for it. If *you* don't like it, *you* need to leave.

Actually, it's assholes like you telling us what others *need*, that should probably leave. Seriously, you can leave if me not liking it bothers you that much, as I mentioned previously you have the *freedom* to do so.

I would rather change these supposed laws you speak of to allow us to defend ourselves properly without being subverted by the liberal nonsense called political correctness.

Btw, which law do you think specifically prohibits us from naming our enemies based on their country of origin, race, or religious beliefs? I want to know so I can bitch and moan about the right thing.

Re:The same should be done (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217072)

1) A bit hypocritical for you to be angry about me reflecting your own logic. You said, "if you don't like it, leave", but when the same thing is said to you, you get offended? Why would you say something that you consider offensive yourself? Aren't we supposed to set the standards of our own treatment by the way we treat others?

2) There is no law saying you can't name your enemies, but there are laws against libel and slander. If you name all of a people (Muslims) as terrorists, then you're committing libel/slander as not all are, in fact, terrorists.

The truth is that our enemies are those who attack us. Those who support those who attack us are people we don't like. Those who say "all of category X" people are our enemies, just want your permission to do as they please.

3) Drop the whole "liberal/conservative" thing. This has nothing to do with over-simplified ideology. This is about facts. Exacting facts to get those who do harm and, with similar vigor, everything possible to protect the innocent. That's tough and requires much more effort than is required in the false dichotomy that is "liberal/conservative" banter.

Re:The same should be done (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216908)

Between ground.zero.612, and an Anonymous Coward, the punk ass nazi bitch contingent of /. has been well represented.

All that's missing is the League of Mindless Randroids, lecturing us that the Free Market and the Inerrant Thought of Chairman Rand DEMANDS that everyone being tested should be forced to pay for the testing, because anything else would be SOCIALISM!

Seriously, when did some Americans become such ignorant, cowardly, pants wetting wussies?

Re:The same should be done (1)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217074)

Seriously, when did some Americans become such ignorant, cowardly, pants wetting wussies?

I think that is what ground.zero.612 says, and no I'm not racist, but I agree with ground zero. I personally think Racial Profiling is A.OK but Ground Zero what about all of those white people who have blown up buildings, those Black and Mexican people blowing up cars and shooting each other daily. So you could say we are scanning by races who have blown shit up and could have the intent to blow shit up again; it just happens to be everyone.

Oh and speaking of the free market.

Re:The same should be done (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216536)

Shut the fuck up jewboy!

Re:The same should be done (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216680)

Your myopia is impressive.

Shocking though it may be, security measures are usually designed with multiple potential threats in mind. And it is not unknown [wikipedia.org] for good Christian White boys to take up rather dramatic forms of political activism. And Black guys have been known to be problematic [wikipedia.org] from time to time.

It's pathetic, really. In your zeal to protect yourself from the OMGSCARY terrorists, you end up losing all perspective and succumbing to hysteria. You can't even keep the recent history of terrorist activity in the United States in mind, much less a proper historical perspective(not to mention broader risk comparisons; ~40,000 people a year die driving, and you are losing your shit over rare events that claim less than a tenth that number? Pitiful.)

Re:The same should be done (4, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216854)

Tim [wikipedia.org] , Terry, [wikipedia.org] and Ted [wikipedia.org] would like a word with you.

That word would be "kaboom".

The vast majority of "middle east" folks who are here are here because they're tired of all the shit in their home countries. The guy next to me is Iranian; he's here now with his family because he's not going to get dragged into the street by the secret police or arrested because he went to University.

Most people, no matter where they are from, don't want to blow things up or destroy buildings. (Personally, I realize that some buildings have to be blown up, but that's because of the work I do. Frankly, if you're getting shot at by the Navy, then it's probably not a big loss if we kick you off the planet.) They want to go about their lives without the fear of being blown up or shot at.

These "Muslims" (and just for the record, not everyone from the middle east is a Muslim.) emigrating to the Western world are often highly-educated (like the non-Muslim Professional Engineer next to me that I referred to earlier), young, and wanting to make a solid contribution to the countries that they are now calling home.

We were not attacked by Muslims. The attacks on the Cole, the Twin Towers, and the Pentagon were performed by brainwashed puppets controlled by a billionaire megalomanic sociopath who convinced them that they would be better off dead. They were no more Muslim than the Branch Davidians or Manson's followers were whatever religion they purported to be. The Koran is pretty clear about the "Thou Shalt Not Kill" rule, same as the Torah and the Bible. (There are parts like Leviticus in the other texts as well, so don't cut and paste something out of context from a website.) I've had Muslim co-workers, and they are as opposed to violence as anyone else. This includes hating Hamas for rocketing Israel and condemning 9/11 as a travesty.

The TSA is bullshit security theater, plain and simple.

We got into this mess from political gaming, not from "liberals". Liberals want the government out of people's lives, smaller government, and no deficit budgets.

Re:The same should be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30218484)

Pretty clear about the "Thou shalt not kill*" rule.

*except anyone who causes a Muslim to convert from Islam or has the audacity to hold public office while not being a Muslim. Or is a single woman who has spent 30 seconds with an unrelated man in private. Or makes wine(potato vodka is ok, though)

Re:The same should be done (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216524)

> Such evidence should only be collected without consent with a warrant and if the individual is not charged and
> convicted with a crime such evidence should be removed from any database/storage and destroyed/deleted. If it is
> taken with consent then the individual should have the right to ask that it be destroyed after the investigation
> is complete.

Agreed but... the measure also needs teeth. There should be STRONG penalties for NOT destroying evidence that should be destroyed. In fact, I would say that the standard should be that DNA evidence may be collected and used for a test, if that test comes back negative, all samples (and data) MUST be destroyed.

If it comes back positive, then start a clock. When the clock runs out, either charges must be filed, or all samples and data MUST be destroyed.

Failure to follow this should be considered a civil rights violation, and should have stiff "ram them up the ass" penalties. CRIMINAL penalties. Career ending penalties.

Then, some idiot will break that law, get caught, and have his career ended, and spend time in JAIL for his crime. THEN the police will follow the law.

Not that any of this will happen. Just thats the best way I see to close this severe gap.
-Steve

Re:The same should be done (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216902)

Unfortunately, real life is a bit more complicated.

What if the reason that some police clerk didn't destroy the records is because they were told not to, and their boss threatened their job if they didn't comply?

What if the reason was that their boss told them to focus on other priorities during the 8 hours they had in the work day? As in "I need you working on this other project which could help the department solve 3 murder cases. You can work on destroying the records later."?

You see the problem? That's one of the basic problems with forcing organizations to do things: figuring out where the buck stops when the law is violated is extremely difficult. Who knows what when, who decides what when, and so forth is massively complex, because a guilty party with half a brain carefully fingers someone else. The tendency is for the police clerk to be hung out to dry in both of the cases I described above, while the boss simply says "I told the clerk to follow standard procedures".

Re:The same should be done (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217114)

But... if you let that be an excuse to not make the law, or not give the law teeth, then you are essentially saying that "the convenience of the police is more important than peoples privacy".

If there is no punishment, then they will simply not comply. They will NEVER allocate the resources, and this will ALWAYS be the case, UNLESS there are real teeth to the law. The simple fact that somebody along the chain is going to fry for it will MAKE SURE that doesn't happen.

This is NO DIFFERENT than at ANY workplace. What if an accountant goes to his boss and says "We have to spend some time tieing up loose ends to comply with reporting laws" and the boss says "No work on this other thing instead"?
Would it be a mess? Maybe. Would the boss be liable or the employee? Probably depends. (I imagine the employee would be smart to make sure he got that in email at least).

The point remains, if there is no penalty then they will never comply.

-Steve

Re:The same should be done (1)

oreaq (817314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217708)

You see the problem? That's one of the basic problems with forcing organizations to do things: figuring out where the buck stops when the law is violated is extremely difficult.

Actually it is not. If somebody tells you to commit a crime and you do it then you are guilty and he is your accomplice. If your boss tells you to either commit a crime or get fired he is guilty of coercion.

What if the reason that some police clerk didn't destroy the records is because they were told not to, and their boss threatened their job if they didn't comply?

What should a member of the police force do if he sees that somebody commits a crime?

Re:The same should be done (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30218036)

What if the reason that some police clerk didn't destroy the records is because they were told not to, and their boss threatened their job if they didn't comply?

The boss told me to is not a get out of jail free card for anyone else, why should police be any different? His best bet is to rat the boss out FAST!

As in "I need you working on this other project which could help the department solve 3 murder cases. You can work on destroying the records later."?

Again, start ratting now! If they don't have the resources to destroy the records, they certainly don't have the resources to create them in the first place. Besides solving a murder a day earlier won't bring the victim back!

As for assigning blame, the cops like to play army, so we'll go with that. The CO is responsible.

No Way! (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216156)

I'm shocked, I tell you! Shocked!

who watches the watchmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216162)

and who watches the men watching the watchmen?

Re:who watches the watchmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216188)

The MPAA?

But they watch the women too. They are an equal opportunities litigant.

Re:who watches the watchmen (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216610)

The aliens, who are using the DNA samples to create a tasty snack food.

enjoy your police state (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216170)

Seriously, America may be full of religious idiots who believe some bible over empirical evidence but at least the States aren't an orwellian nightmare of a police state that makes the DPRK look like the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

How do you Brits tolerate this on a daily basis? Hell, you can't even have real knives because mummy + doddy took them away from you.

Re:enjoy your police state (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216292)

aren't yet, you mean

Re:enjoy your police state (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216622)

Hell, you can't even have real knives

So, I'm imagining the cutlery in the drawer in my kitchen? Oh shit...*picks up phone and starts dialling*....Hello, Doctor, I think I need stronger medication--I'm seeing forks again!

Re:enjoy your police state (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216728)

Fortunately for you, there is no spoon.

Re:enjoy your police state (1, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216722)

Just wait for the health insurance bill to pass. This will give the Obama administration access to everyones health records, DNA, as well as another 1/6 of their salary. He will have the capability to deny you and your family health care for whatever reason he wants.

So be sure to vote for the "right" candidates (democrates only), obey their rules (you must weigh the correct amount, no smoking or drinking allowed, popcorn is forbidden, no meat, etc). Or you can become a democratic senator, and the laws will not apply to you. You can even drown someone, and nobody will ever care.

Facts without analysis (2, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216174)

Certain demographics (such as young, black men) are also 'very highly over-represented' in prison.

Re:Facts without analysis (4, Informative)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216544)

Certain demographics (such as young, black men) are also 'very highly over-represented' in prison.

You mean like, they are in prison, so they represent a black man in prison?

You probably meant to say something like "young black men commit a disproportionate amount of violent crimes, leading to a disproportionate young black prison population."

Re:Facts without analysis (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216636)

Sssshhhh... you're only allowed to make comments like that when it refers to 'middle class white guys' like the story yesterday.

Re:Facts without analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217054)

Yeah, i thought that was odd as well. I mean, what if, for political reasons, they decided to skew the prison demographics or arrest rates based purely on 'race'. A back fire if you will.

"You may have killed someone, mr black, but we see here that you are indeed black and there are too many of you in prison... your free to go".

I think its dangerous to make a big deal about race in either respect... even the BET channel is pushing it for me, 'cause it does separate people based solely on race. Makes a big stink about race.

Hell, I'm a red headed Canadian with a penchance for Blues and Soul music... and I feel dirty watching BET, as if i'm doing something wrong as a white man watching a BLACK channel. Why are we moving towards separational thinking again?

I'm still waiting on the Irish/Scottish history month... I mean I know i'm missing out on a lot of that history as well. ...Queen Boutica the Ician was on Discovery one day. Blew my mind. Irish woman that lead an army of 10 000 to their deaths in a spectacular way against the roman occupation).

Be nice to get a good solid month for each cultures history. It'd be interesting.

Just saying...

Re:Facts without analysis (1)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217502)

Hell, I'm a red headed Canadian with a penchance for Blues and Soul music... and I feel dirty watching BET, as if i'm doing something wrong as a white man watching a BLACK channel. Why are we moving towards separational thinking again?

I thought that the whole idea about a multi-cultural society is that each group can have its own unique culture? Is it wrong for a black (or white or Indian) person to live out his own unique culture?

It becomes clear to me that the much toted "multiculturalism" promoted in the Europe is nothing but cultural assimilation where the dominant culture is left-liberalism.

Re:Facts without analysis (3, Insightful)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217362)

I also share this sentiment. Since processing this DNA costs money, to minimize the cost, police should use whatever features there that indicates an individual would be more susceptible to crime.

As another example, the number of samples of men are also probably a lot larger than women. That isn't discrimination - it is statistics.

Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (0)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216180)

Of the 4.5m individuals in the database, a fifth have never received any convictions or cautions from the Police.

Than means that for approx 80% of the people they initially suspected, they were right! Far be it for me to support Big Brother, but its hard to find fault with a law enforcement system that actually seem to be doing what it is supposed to.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216210)

That's not the issue. The issue is that one in five people in that database really have no business being there.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (4, Funny)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216330)

Well then we better go arrest those trespassers!

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (2, Funny)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216530)

Please don't go and give them any ideas! They probably haven't thought of that yet.

Police: "We're arresting you for trespassing."
Citizen: "But I haven't done anything! I've been home all day."
Police: "Your DNA was in our database and it does not belong there."
Citizen: "Didn't YOU put my DNA in there to begin with?"
Police: "SILENCE. Oh look, we already have your DNA. It's a perfect match..."

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216222)

Throw enough charges at someone and eventually *something* will stick.

There's enough laws out there that everyone has broken at least one of them or some "interpretation" of one.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216326)

> Far be it for me to support Big Brother, but its hard to find fault with a
> law enforcement system that actually seem to be doing what it is supposed to.

You believe that they should arrest the same people over and over again for acts most of which would not be crimes in a truly free society?

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216384)

Did you miss the part about "cautions from the police"?

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216416)

Than means that for approx 80% of the people they initially suspected, they were right!

No, it merely reflects that when the database was set up they only retained the DNA of convicted criminals.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216436)

Not necessarily.

80% has had some sort of infraction, but nothing says that they were bled as a result of those actual infractions (or just erroneously picked up later) let alone if the crime was serious to make the gov't body think, "We better keep an eye on this wily-eyed criminal."

Moreover, 80% is acceptable? Seriously? 1 out of 5 completely innocent people abused by the system is completely acceptable? You either have extremely low standards or work in law enforcement, criminal prosecution, or corrections.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216490)

or work in law enforcement, criminal prosecution, or corrections.

because obviously we should ignore such peoples opinions.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216594)

because obviously we should ignore such peoples opinions.

Police only have an easy job in a police state. Giving up rights just because the police can more easily catch EVIL ECO-TERRORISTS who dump garbage by the side of the road because the local council have cut garbage collection from weekly to every other week is not a good plan unless you intend to be the next Stalin or to end your life in a gulag.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (2, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216794)

No, but you need to adjust for their well-recorded bias. The noted industries (public and private) actually subsist on the capture of people and labeling them as criminals regardless of actual innocence. Of course they'd be willing to have a massive amount of false positives... it all helps to further validate their existences.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216894)

1 out of 5 completely innocent people

That's not how statistics work!

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

tibman (623933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217194)

Their DNA is stored for identifcation purposes, i don't see how that counts as abuse? If the DNA is treated like a fingerprint, the only value it has is for identification.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (5, Insightful)

aslate (675607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216468)

Of the 4.5m individuals in the database, a fifth have never received any convictions or cautions from the Police.

Than means that for approx 80% of the people they initially suspected, they were right!

No, that means that 80% of those have had some form of criminal conviction or caution at any point in their life, which could be for a large array of fairly minor things.

Cautions can be given out for petty vandalism or fairly minor crime, lots of things that people may have done during their younger years. Not the sort of crimes that i think DNA should be kept on a database for.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

IndigoDarkwolf (752210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217222)

Why not? All they have to do is not break the law, right? Seems simple enough. And besides, we're talking about the police. If we can't trust them with our DNA profiles, who can we trust?
--
Burning karma so you don't have to!

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217468)

Why not? All they have to do is not break the law, right? Seems simple enough.

This argument is about as meaningful here as it is if it were in support of universal death penalty for every crime - "all they have to do is not break the law". Breaking the law is not an excuse for the state to do anything it wants to you; only what is reasonable. Storing a DNA of a guy arrested for something like indecent exposure because of pissing in the bushes in a public park is not reasonable.

And besides, we're talking about the police. If we can't trust them with our DNA profiles, who can we trust?

Someone with whom you have a specific contract regarding what can and cannot be done with your DNA, and whom you can sue if they breach that contract.

Police, meanwhile, can use that DNA information as they see fit, once they get their hands on it.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216666)

Than means that for approx 80% of the people they initially suspected, they were right! Far be it for me to support Big Brother, but its hard to find fault with a law enforcement system that actually seem to be doing what it is supposed to.

They're not suppose to punish innocent people. If 80% are guilty, 20% are innocent. And I'm of the opinion that violation of my human rights IS punishment.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216720)

The problem is that the police use DNA for fishing expeditions instead of doing real police work. Rather than bothering to investigate and find likely suspects that they can then interview and perhaps ask for a DNA sample, they just arrest anyone who has merely been accused and take their DNA. Even if it turns out that are completely innocent that DNA is kept forever and tested against all future crimes.

Let's say you accidentally brush against someone on the street. A few days later the police arrest you because a hair with your DNA was found at the scene of a child rape and murder. You now have to explain how your hair got there (it landed on the clothes of the person you passed in the street and was transported there) and your whareabouts at the time of the crime. You will need to involve other people to confirm your alibi, which means they will find out that you are a suspect in a child rape and murder. You will not be able to go to work while in custody, and will have to explain your absence to your employer.

All because the police couldn't be bothered to try and figure out who might have done it, they just grabbed any DNA from the scene and looked in their database, then arrested everyone who matched to see who could provide an alibi.

Re:Actaully, it seems pretty accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216788)

Yeah, might as well stay inside my tinfoil-lined basement suite... My hair and skin flakes could be EVERYWHERE!

mod Up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216252)

You can. [No,

Oversight isn't a fix... (3, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216338)

Oversight isn't a fix for something that shouldn't exist in the first place. If you can't trust the original owners to be ethical with something of such corruptible power, do you really want to risk trusting *anyone* with this?

Re:Oversight isn't a fix... (5, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217044)

1. I don't think there is anything we can do to stop the collection of biometrics (fingerprints, DNA, etc.) And there really are legitimate reasons to do it. There are countless ways that the government (or anyone else) could get my fingerprints and DNA.

2. As a matter of principle, we should not pass laws that cannot be enforced.

So with those two rules in mind, instead of fighting the inevitable biometric data collection with unenforceable laws, let us make laws governing its use. If anyone uses that information, then they have to bring it in front of a court and prove their case. At that time, the judge can decide if they used the biometrics properly. If not, the evidence is thrown out. That is a pretty darned strong incentive for them to use the information properly. It is measurable and enforceable. Good laws can make it transparent.

Just brainstorming here, but what if the law required notifying someone of when and how biometric information was collected, how it is used, etc? Imagine if people suddenly got notifications about their fingerprints or DNA being stored - I think that would contribute to public awareness a heck of a lot. Awareness is good.

Re:Oversight isn't a fix... (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30218418)

You're right in that there's no way to completely stop the accumulation of biometric data, but given the extreme potential for misuse and the near-zero trust any of us have for anyone actually controlling the data, shouldn't we do our best to prevent the accumulation of data while we can?

Re:Oversight isn't a fix... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30218702)

shouldn't we do our best to prevent the accumulation of data while we can?

Yes you should. So next, decide what period of time is "while we can?"

It sounds like this is merely a measure of degree. You said "You're right in that there's no way to completely stop the accumulation of biometric data" but I'm not asserting merely that we cannot stop it completely. I'm asserting that we can't stop it one bit.

If that is true, then "while we can" = never. So then you should not do anything to stop the accumulation. Is my "can't stop it one bit" really the case? hmmm... well, right now, I could grab the DNA and fingerprints of every one of my coworkers. And nobody would have any way to know. If I can do it, then I think a government can. Now that doesn't really determine if they really would do it, but that's probably a different question. They certainly can do it.

That said, I don't think laws against limiting biometric data collection are bad. My concern is that if people are focusing on such laws, they might be missing the next step of "they have the data so... now what?"

Some of this is devil's advocate... it didn't occur to me until today that we really can't stop it. Maybe I'm wrong. But I'd like to be prepared in case I am right.

But... (3, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216392)

What about this [nytimes.com] ? Are we just supposed to pretend it never happened?

No Different Than (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216450)

their colonial regime for whom the U.S.A. still works.

Yours In Ashgabat,
K.T.

bend over and take it (0, Troll)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216620)

Will any of you fight this intrusion into your persons by force? What's that? No? Even the Taliban are brave enough to try to defend their way of life against the demeaning incursions of the USA/British/Israeli Axis, but when it comes to the victims in the Home countries, well you just bend over for it every time. This is why I will always admire organizations like Hezbollah more than you, even if I don't agree with all of their ideas - at least they have the balls to stand up against your violent and intrusive regimes and define their cultures in opposition to it. Since none of you will ever go to the lengths necessary to protect your rights and human dignity, you had better pray to God that the economic collapse happens sooner than later and cuts off the ability of your malignant regimes to continue these debauches.

When the USSR fell, it fell largely peacefully - but I expect the US/UK/Israeli Axis regimes to wage total war on their own people before fading from history.

Re:bend over and take it (2, Interesting)

tibman (623933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217268)

In a civilized country, you don't have to kill people to make a point. You have discussions.

Re:bend over and take it (1)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217456)

Oh yes, a rational discussion with the SS goon arresting you just to take bodily material from you will work! If only we had thought of this before!

How naive can you be? Tyranny is irrational and it is imposed by paranoid radicals. I saw a farce of the US Homeland Security that showed the eagle holding a magnifying lens and wearing a tinfoil hat. The biggest conspiracy theorists of all are in the Axis governments - jumping at shadows, yelling about "terrorism" without cause, and spying on everyone. The government is having a psychotic episode.

I have a bad feeling about this (3, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216708)

I can't say it's surprising that there is " 'very little concrete evidence' that the DNA database had any actual use in investigating crime." If you look at the UK, the trend lines all seem very alarming - billions of pounds spent on crime fighting theater that doesn't actually fight crime, loss of basic freedoms at a rate even the Tudors or the Puritans would have found alarming, all with no apparent actual oversight of any of it. This just seems part of the same pattern.

Idiot Juries (4, Insightful)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216796)

that think any DNA evidence presented is absolute, pure, handed-down-from-god-almighty proof of guilt are a big part of the problem. Especially if you have a giant, tailor-made repository of DNA already harvested from 'The Usual Suspects' to help 'solve' those pesky cases that stand in the way of pay raises, big promotions, or running for political office on a law and order platform. Just sprinkle your handy sample of pre-collected DNA liberally at that stone-cold-whodunit crime scene and announce "Hey, look what I found!".

The overseeing body should... (2, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216806)

... also be able to charge, fine, and incriminate the policemen who continue to do things illegally, thus setting example and ensuring better policemanship.

The police don't respect the law because very few people actually make them do it.

Make them.

DNA doesn't provide conclusive evidence (2, Interesting)

Rich_Roast (1685356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216888)

"Members of the Jury, if you accept the scientific evidence called by the Crown, this indicates that there are probably only four or five white males in the United Kingdom from whom that semen stain could have come. The Defendant is one of them. If that is the position, the decision you have to reach, on all the evidence, is whether you are sure that it was the Defendant who left that stain or whether it is possible that it was one of that other small group of men who share the same DNA characteristics." - Phillips LJ, cited from Wikipedia article. To be truly effective as a tool in prosecution, every man, woman and child would need their DNA profile kept on record, and British public records, up to and including massive numbers of tax returns (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082402/Tax-website-shut-memory-stick-secret-personal-data-12million-pub-car-park.html), have a history of being woefully insecure. None of this bodes well for much of anything.

Misunderstanding how laws and enforcement works (5, Interesting)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217084)

It's bizarre but there still seems to be this perception that the police are a fine bunch of chaps who will universally do their best to apply the rules sensibly and fairly. There are plenty of police officers who that description applies to, I'm sure - but that's not an excuse for lawmakers and the justice system to assume it holds universally true.

At the end of the day, the police are there - in practice - *to catch potential criminals*. Sorting out who is and isn't guilty is not their job, that's the job of the courts (as it should be). So the police don't really have an incentive to be especially fair or reasonable; that's not what we've tasked them with doing. What lawmakers sometimes seem to fail to understand is that if we pressure them to achieve "catch all the terrorists / criminals" then they'll try to do that, even if they "catch" many innocent people too. If we give them new tools to do that then *they will use them*. If the tools we give them are extremely blunt instruments, like the ability to hold innocent people's data on the DNA database, they're going to use them to their fullest extent. If we want them to behave sensibly, the laws need to be more focused and less open to abuse.

It's the same issue with various "anti-terror" laws. Allegedly local councils in the UK have used these to put people under surveillance for reasons unrelated to terrorism (like whether they're using their rubbish bins correctly and whether they live in the locality of a school they have applied to). We gave them overly broad legislation and assumed that they wouldn't use it, even though it helps them to do what they see as their job. None of these organisations can be relied upon to act in the best interests in society because each of them only sees part of the big picture - our politicians are *supposed* to maintain the balance of power with targeted legislation that results in society's best interests being served overall. That goal can't be reached by handing out disproportionate powers indiscriminately.

Re:Misunderstanding how laws and enforcement works (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217884)

Thank God for the Second Amendment.

Criminal offense? (3, Insightful)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217174)

... and making misuse of the information a criminal offense.

Wait a sec. You mean it isn't a criminal offense already???

I spit... (2, Funny)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217178)

I spit at their attempt to get my DNA! Oh, wait...

How much garbage will this system produce? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217504)

They just take away our freedoms one at a time. Even though a commission will maybe take down this flagrant offense toward human rights they will just plant another bomb at the subway like they did last time and they'll come back in full swing. People for the love of who ever you pray to let's all unite. I feel that in the future we'll be so well manipulated that we won't stand a chance. We'll be shot in plain daylight with the argument of being supposed terrorists. Read the Patriot Act . You can be arrested, detained and tortured indefinitely, with no charges and without any rights. Let's organize a big protest while there's still the time. Time is ticking against us. It' doesn't take long. 1 day a year for 1 hour the whole world will be united against what is after all our own system that we support and accept.
We can wipe world hunger and such grotesque inequities in 1-5 days tops + 1-2 years of world reconstruction. This is vs a lifetime of slavery.
Whenever a computer, car, or something else becomes outdated you go and get a new one. Why not do the same with this fascist economic system of ours? I don't know what to believe any more. I feel that Zeitgeist is the only way we've got if I ever want to see those poor starving children receive what was their all along.

Re:How much garbage will this system produce? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217800)

How much garbage will this post contain?

FTFY.

Fox watching the hen house (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217786)

>>> The government plans to keep all DNA samples for up to six years, except for terrorism-related investigations, which will be retained forever.

This is true even if the person is found not guilty. All this means is that to get what they want which is records of everyone's DNA forever all they need to do is claim some fake terrorism-related possibility at the time of arrest.

Even for non-terrorism arrests, we only have the government's word that they aren't keeping the records past 6 years. The UK government have frequently proved they routinely lie about stuff like this.

It'st too late... (1)

Ludedude (948645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217806)

"The report recommends that an independent advisory body oversee the database, and that laws be passed to limit the uses of the database, while tracking those with access to it, and making misuse of the information a criminal offence." It's too late. You can never put the shit back in the donkey.

What would making misuse illegal accomplish? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217870)

Is a police likely to file charges against another policeman?
Is a police likely to file charges against a Prosecutor?

Who exactly is going to file charges against who in order for
this illegality to have real effect? If something is illegal,
then someone is at risk of going to jail. Who exactly is at
risk when the people who have access are all law enforcers?

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