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The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Old 05-23-10, 01:00 PM
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The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-20005458-38.html

House votes to expand national DNA arrest database
May 19, 2010 5:36 PM PDT
by Declan McCullagh

Millions of Americans arrested for but not convicted of crimes will likely have their DNA forcibly extracted and added to a national database, according to a bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.

By a 357 to 32 vote, the House approved legislation that will pay state governments to require DNA samples, which could mean drawing blood with a needle, from adults "arrested for" certain serious crimes. Not one Democrat voted against the database measure, which would hand out about $75 million to states that agree to make such testing mandatory.


"We should allow law enforcement to use all the technology available to them...to reduce expensive and unjust false convictions, bring closure to victims by solving cold cases, better identify criminals, and keep those who commit violent crime from walking the streets," said Rep. Harry Teague, the New Mexico Democrat who sponsored the bill.

But civil libertarians say DNA samples should be required only from people who have been convicted of crimes, and argue that if there is probable cause to believe that someone is involved in a crime, a judge can sign a warrant allowing a blood sample or cheek swab to be forcibly extracted.

"It's wrong to treat someone as guilty before they're convicted," says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute. "It inverts the concept of innocent until proven guilty."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership scheduled Tuesday's debate on the bill--called the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2010--using a procedure known as the "suspension calendar" intended to be reserved for non-controversial legislation.

"Suspension of the rules is supposed to be for praising the winner of the NCAA championship or renaming Post Offices," Harper says. "Things like collecting Americans' DNA are supposed to be fully debated in Congress."

In a surprise move, as the U.S. Congress was expanding the FBI's DNA database, the U.K.'s new coalition government was pledging sharp curbs on its own databases.


Created in the mid-1990s, the UK National DNA Database originally was supposed to store data on convicted criminals, but grew to include records on more than 5 million Britons, including many who were only arrested on suspicion of a crime.

U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg promised once-in-a-century privacy reforms in a speech on Wednesday: "We won't hold your Internet and e-mail records when there is just no reason to do so. CCTV will be properly regulated, as will the DNA database, with restrictions on the storage of innocent people's DNA. Britain must not be a country where our children grow up so used to their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question."
And here is the chronology, from the same article:

The United States has followed a similar pattern: first, DNA was collected from convicted criminals, and then the practice was expanded to sweep in Americans arrested on suspicion of a crime.

A 2000 federal law called the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act required that DNA samples be taken from anyone convicted of or on probation for certain serious crimes. This was challenged in court on Fourth and Fifth Amendment grounds, but a federal appeals court upheld (PDF) the DNA collection requirement as constitutional.

A second bill that President Bush signed in January 2006 said any federal police agency could "collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested." Anyone who fails to cooperate is, under federal law, guilty of an additional crime.

In addition, federal law and subsequent regulations from the Department of Justice authorize any means "reasonably necessary to detain, restrain, and collect a DNA sample from an individual who refuses to cooperate in the collection of the sample." The cheek swab or blood tests can be outsourced to "private entities."

A May 2009 ruling from a federal judge in California was the first decision to say that police can forcibly take DNA samples from Americans who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime. U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Hollows said the requirement of DNA-sampling felony arrestees did not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of "unreasonable searches and seizures"--but noted that he took no position on whether or not DNA sampling for misdemeanor offenses was reasonable and constitutional.

But that law applied only to federal agencies, and the bill approved this week would provide a strong incentive for state and local governments to follow suit.


If states do follow suit, it's difficult to overstate how many more DNA samples would flood into the FBI's Convicted Offender DNA Index System (CODIS) database. Federal agencies arrested about 133,000 people in 2004, according to data compiled by the Urban Institute under a Justice Department grant.

But local and state governments arrested nearly 14 million Americans that year, not counting traffic offenses, according to FBI data.

Rep. Teague's proposal would extend DNA sampling and testing to anyone arrested on suspicion of burglary or attempted burglary; aggravated assault; murder or attempted murder; manslaughter; sex acts that can be punished by imprisonment for more than one year; and sex offenses against minors. The attorney general would be required to report to Congress which states have and have not signed up for the DNA database.

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), a former sheriff who spoke on the House floor in favor of the bill, said the measure is supported by the National Sheriffs' Association, the National District Attorney's Association, and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).

The legislation would allow states to receive 15 percent "bonuses" from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The program gave out $165 million in local funding and $318 million in state funding for fiscal year 2009, not counting stimulus grants.

"We're strongly opposed to expanding collection," says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. He suggested the U.S. should follow the lead of the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled two years ago that holding DNA samples from people arrested but not convicted of a crime violates their privacy rights.
The basic argument is that collecting DNA would be comparable to collecting fingerprints, something that has been done for pretty much every arrest for any crime for a long time now. Those opposed argue that DNA collection and storage in a database is far more invasive than collection of fingerprints.

No matter how one feels about the issue, it has very clearly followed the "slippery slope" progression that civil libertarians often warn about.

I personally continue to object to the "purse string legislation" tactic of the Federal government fiscally cajoling (see: bribing) the states into passing laws that the Tenth Amendment (at least in theory) would prohibit them from simply imposing on them directly.
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Old 05-23-10, 01:33 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

First they came for the convicts ....
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Old 05-23-10, 03:12 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

The government has been collecting and testing the DNA of babies for years, since the 1960's in fact. Some of that DNA is kept indefinitely by the government. I guess not knowing that is indeed bliss as the old saying goes.

We've been on this police state 'slippery' slope for a long time now.
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Old 05-23-10, 05:22 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

21 states already do this anyway. Virginia, where I live, has been collecting from arrestees for over 5 years.

http://www.ncsl.org/issuesresearch/c...7/default.aspx

State Laws on DNA Data Banks
Qualifying Offenses, Others Who Must Provide Sample

February 2010

All 50 states require that convicted sex offenders provide a DNA sample, and states are increasingly expanding these policies to include all felons and some misdemeanor To date, 47 states require that all convicted felons provide a DNA sample to the state’s database.

At least 15 states to date include certain misdemeanors among those who must provide a DNA sample. Some are misdemeanors for which sex offender registration is required; other states specify certain sex offenses or child victim offenses.

By 2009, 21 states, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas Vermont and Virginia, had passed laws authorizing DNA samples of certain arrestees; seven were passed in 2009 including Arkansas and Vermont, among others. Arkansas’s qualifying offenses are murder and sex crime arrests. The Texas law allows post-indictment samples of certain sex offenders. Minnesota's similarly requires a DNA sample after probable cause determination in a charge of one of many serious felonies. California’s Proposition 69, approved by voters on November 2, 2004, requires DNA samples of adults arrested for or charged with a felony sex offense, murder or voluntary manslaughter, or attempt of these crimes. Starting in 2009, the measure requires arrestee sampling be expanded to arrests for any felony offense. The same measure expanded DNA testing to all convicted felons. Kansas added the requirement that felony or drug sentencing guidelines grid level 1 or 2 crime arrestees provide a DNA sample in its law; and expanded in mid-2008 to all felony arrestees. New Mexico’s law also enacted arrestee samples from specified violent felons.

DNA offender database policy is rapidly changing in states; especially that requiring certain misdemeants and certain arrestees to provide samples.
DNA data bases in all states today are connected to the National DNA Index System, which is run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for federal and state information sharing.
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Old 05-23-10, 05:47 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

They also started taking DNA in the army about 10 or so years ago. So everyone who was in is also in a database. Don't know about who can access it though.
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Old 05-23-10, 11:19 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

I don't see why they don't make the database like a one way hash system. In other words, they don't keep full DNA profiles on record, but instead they take each profile and run it through a one-way function that translates it into a unique sequence of numbers. The numbers themselves are meaningless and cannot be reverse engineered to recreate the original profile. The profile is destroyed, but the number is kept in the database. When the police have DNA evidence they can then run it through the system and see if there are any matches, but they do not have access to anyone's actual DNA profile.
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Old 05-23-10, 11:27 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by wmansir View Post
I don't see why they don't make the database like a one way hash system. In other words, they don't keep full DNA profiles on record, but instead they take each profile and run it through a one-way function that translates it into a unique sequence of numbers. The numbers themselves are meaningless and cannot be reverse engineered to recreate the original profile. The profile is destroyed, but the number is kept in the database. When the police have DNA evidence they can then run it through the system and see if there are any matches, but they do not have access to anyone's actual DNA profile.
They actually do more than just look for matches. There are multiple instances where they identified a suspect because the crime scene DNA was very similar but not identical to someone in the system. The suspect was a close blood relative of the person who was a close match in the database.

I don't think you could replicate that sort of capability if the sequence was subjected to a typical one-way hashing algorithm.
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Old 05-24-10, 12:03 AM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

If they do this right, they could have men lining up around the block willing to provide a "DNA sample."
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Old 05-24-10, 01:14 AM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

By a 357 to 32 vote, the House approved legislation that will pay state governments to require DNA samples, which could mean drawing blood with a needle, from adults "arrested for" certain serious crimes.
From a Constitutional standpoint, I'm not sure how this is different from fingerprinting adults "arrested for" pretty much every crime. Arguably, a DNA sample is more invasive than a fingerprint (but maybe not if you're talking about a swabbed sample), but does that matter, Constitutionally speaking?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership scheduled Tuesday's debate on the bill--called the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2010--using a procedure known as the "suspension calendar" intended to be reserved for non-controversial legislation.
The vote was 11 to 1 in favor. That's pretty non-controversial.
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Old 05-24-10, 08:37 AM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by wmansir View Post
I don't see why they don't make the database like a one way hash system. In other words, they don't keep full DNA profiles on record, but instead they take each profile and run it through a one-way function that translates it into a unique sequence of numbers. The numbers themselves are meaningless and cannot be reverse engineered to recreate the original profile. The profile is destroyed, but the number is kept in the database. When the police have DNA evidence they can then run it through the system and see if there are any matches, but they do not have access to anyone's actual DNA profile.
Actually, that is pretty much what it is now. The DNA profiles stored in the database are a series of 26 numbers. These numbers are associated with unique identifier for that sample that can be traced back to a name by only people who have access to the secured computer system.
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Old 05-24-10, 09:41 AM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Maybe politicians should be donating their DNA first.
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Old 05-24-10, 10:08 AM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
The vote was 11 to 1 in favor. That's pretty non-controversial.
The Patriot Act passed 98 to 1 but I wouldn't say that was non-controversial
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Old 05-24-10, 11:17 AM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
From a Constitutional standpoint, I'm not sure how this is different from fingerprinting adults "arrested for" pretty much every crime. Arguably, a DNA sample is more invasive than a fingerprint (but maybe not if you're talking about a swabbed sample), but does that matter, Constitutionally speaking?
Unlike DNA, Fingerprints are essentially meaningless other than for identification.

I see DNA as more akin to medical records. What if the feds wanted states to collect the medical records of every person arrested and compile them in a central database?
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Old 05-24-10, 01:12 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post
The Patriot Act passed 98 to 1 but I wouldn't say that was non-controversial
Good point.

Originally Posted by wmansir View Post
Unlike DNA, Fingerprints are essentially meaningless other than for identification.

I see DNA as more akin to medical records. What if the feds wanted states to collect the medical records of every person arrested and compile them in a central database?
Another good point. DNA does have a legitimate crime-fighting purpose (identification of suspects), but it also has uses beyond that. I guess that crimefighting purpose needs to be balanced against the other potential uses (or abuses), and abuses safeguarded against.
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Old 05-24-10, 04:30 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
And to that I can only say this: Either we are FREE or we are NOT FREE....and freedom in this country is just a word on paper. In fact, that's all that it ever was, because we've never been truly free. Maybe the "free-est" in the world today, but let's not call an argyle sock a cashmere sweater, shall we?
Don't take this personally, but I hate this argument. First of, how is it government having your DNA profile makes you less free? Are there things you can do more freely if the big brother can't identify you? You're more easily to get away with committing a crime? Legally speaking, you're still able to do everything freely within the boundary.

Secondly, this country is not the freest county in the world by far. It's so much more restrictive than many countries I've lived in. Heck, people can't even smoke indoors now a day. I'm no smoker, and I hate second-hand, but I respect people's freedom to do so. Tenants in a HOA controlled apartment complex can't smoke in the privacy of their home. Freest country in the world? Please........
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Old 05-24-10, 04:55 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
The vote was 11 to 1 in favor. That's pretty non-controversial.
But we don't know what that vote would have been with a debate. And now we'll never know because Pelosi suspended the debate on it. I don't know how this woman still has a job.
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Old 05-24-10, 05:10 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by SuperJim88 View Post
Don't take this personally, but I hate this argument. First of, how is it government having your DNA profile makes you less free?
Being able to choose if they can have it or not is a freedom.
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Old 05-24-10, 05:28 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

A lot of state governments are hurting for money right now. Why not collect this DNA, and then sell it to insurance companies. I'm sure they'd love to get their hands on the data, and would pay highly to do!
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Old 05-24-10, 06:04 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

If I can bring up someone's tweets soon by brushing my cell phone against their skin, this could be really cool.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:18 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by SuperJim88 View Post
I'm no smoker, and I hate second-hand, but I respect people's freedom to do so. Tenants in a HOA controlled apartment complex can't smoke in the privacy of their home. Freest country in the world? Please........
Any restrictions that people voluntarily suffer by choosing to live somewhere with an HOA are not a reasonable comparison.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:21 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

We won't truly be free until I can come into your house uninvited and take a humongous dump in your bed.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:29 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Given how the left likes to follow Europe's lead, I do have to say this is disappointing.

From The Times
December 5, 2008
Police are ordered to destroy all DNA samples taken from innocent people
Judges say databases stigmatise individuals
Richard Ford, Home Correspondent

More than 1.6 million DNA and fingerprint samples of innocent people on police databases must be destroyed after a court ruled yesterday that keeping them breaches human rights.

The landmark judgment by the European Court of Human Rights is a big setback for the Government and police, who insist that storing the records is a key weapon in fighting crime. Ministers have until March to implement the ruling or find a way of retaining records that satisfies the court. Until then none of the records will be removed from the databases.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, and senior police officers said they were disappointed with the ruling at the Strasbourg court but human rights groups welcomed the unanimous judgment.

In their ruling the court condemmed the “blanket and indiscriminate nature” of powers given to police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and said retaining the information “could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society”.

The court said that keeping the DNA samples and fingerprints of people acquitted of offences, or where proceedings were dropped, breached a person’s right to respect for private life. The 17 judges said the retention of the data stigmatised an individual.

It said that the use of modern scientific techniques in the criminal justice system and their potential benefits must be balanced against important private life interests. The judges said that any country claiming a pioneer role in the development of new technologies bore special responsibility for striking the right balance.

“In particular, the data in question could be retained irrespective of the nature or gravity of the offence for which an individual was originally suspected, or of the age of the suspected offender; the retention was not time-limited; and there existed only limited possibilities for an acquitted individual to have the data removed from the nationwide database or to have the materials destroyed,” the ruling said.

The ruling is a victory for two Britons who have been fighting to have their DNA samples removed from the database after police insisted on keeping them.

Michael Marper, 45, was arrested in March 2001 and charged with harassing his partner. His fingerprints and DNA were taken, but before his trial he and his partner were reconciled and the case was discontinued later. Mr Marper from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, had no previous convictions.

In a separate case, a 19-year-old, named in court only as S, was arrested and charged with attempted robbery in January 2001 when he was 12. S, also from Sheffield, was cleared five months later Both asked South Yorkshire police to destroy their profiles but the police refused, saying the details would be retained to “aid criminal investigations”.

Peter Mahy, the solicitor who represented both men, said the result was a “fantastic result after a seven-year hard-fought battle against the UK Government”. He added: “There is a very clear principle here that innocent people should not be disadvantaged in any way.”

Under present laws, the DNA profiles of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are kept on the database, regardless of whether they are acquitted or the charge is dropped. In Scotland, DNA is kept on the database for three years if a person is acquitted of a serious assault or sex crime.

Samples of 4.6 million people are on the DNA database – the largest in the world – and 7.5 million fingerprints are held on a separate register.

An estimated 800,000 DNA samples are of people acquitted or whose cases never reached court, because charges against them were dropped or never brought. At least a further 800,000 would have to be scrapped from the separate fingerprint database The Home Office highlighted the benefits of retaining samples of people acquitted of crimes who then go into to commit further offences.

At the end of 2005, samples taken from 14,000 crime scenes including 114 murders, 55 attempted murders and 116 rapes had been matched to 8,500 individuals who had been arrested but had charges dropped or had been acquitted of other crimes, the department said.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, welcomed the decision. “The court has used human rights principles and common sense to deliver the privacy protection of innocent people that the British Government has shamefully failed to deliver,” she said.
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Old 05-24-10, 06:30 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Given how the left likes to follow Europe's lead, I do have to say this is disappointing.

From The Times
December 5, 2008
Police are ordered to destroy all DNA samples taken from innocent people
Judges say databases stigmatise individuals
Richard Ford, Home Correspondent

More than 1.6 million DNA and fingerprint samples of innocent people on police databases must be destroyed after a court ruled yesterday that keeping them breaches human rights.

The landmark judgment by the European Court of Human Rights is a big setback for the Government and police, who insist that storing the records is a key weapon in fighting crime. Ministers have until March to implement the ruling or find a way of retaining records that satisfies the court. Until then none of the records will be removed from the databases.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, and senior police officers said they were disappointed with the ruling at the Strasbourg court but human rights groups welcomed the unanimous judgment.

In their ruling the court condemmed the “blanket and indiscriminate nature” of powers given to police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and said retaining the information “could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society”.

The court said that keeping the DNA samples and fingerprints of people acquitted of offences, or where proceedings were dropped, breached a person’s right to respect for private life. The 17 judges said the retention of the data stigmatised an individual.

It said that the use of modern scientific techniques in the criminal justice system and their potential benefits must be balanced against important private life interests. The judges said that any country claiming a pioneer role in the development of new technologies bore special responsibility for striking the right balance.

“In particular, the data in question could be retained irrespective of the nature or gravity of the offence for which an individual was originally suspected, or of the age of the suspected offender; the retention was not time-limited; and there existed only limited possibilities for an acquitted individual to have the data removed from the nationwide database or to have the materials destroyed,” the ruling said.

The ruling is a victory for two Britons who have been fighting to have their DNA samples removed from the database after police insisted on keeping them.

Michael Marper, 45, was arrested in March 2001 and charged with harassing his partner. His fingerprints and DNA were taken, but before his trial he and his partner were reconciled and the case was discontinued later. Mr Marper from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, had no previous convictions.

In a separate case, a 19-year-old, named in court only as S, was arrested and charged with attempted robbery in January 2001 when he was 12. S, also from Sheffield, was cleared five months later Both asked South Yorkshire police to destroy their profiles but the police refused, saying the details would be retained to “aid criminal investigations”.

Peter Mahy, the solicitor who represented both men, said the result was a “fantastic result after a seven-year hard-fought battle against the UK Government”. He added: “There is a very clear principle here that innocent people should not be disadvantaged in any way.”

Under present laws, the DNA profiles of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are kept on the database, regardless of whether they are acquitted or the charge is dropped. In Scotland, DNA is kept on the database for three years if a person is acquitted of a serious assault or sex crime.

Samples of 4.6 million people are on the DNA database – the largest in the world – and 7.5 million fingerprints are held on a separate register.

An estimated 800,000 DNA samples are of people acquitted or whose cases never reached court, because charges against them were dropped or never brought. At least a further 800,000 would have to be scrapped from the separate fingerprint database The Home Office highlighted the benefits of retaining samples of people acquitted of crimes who then go into to commit further offences.

At the end of 2005, samples taken from 14,000 crime scenes including 114 murders, 55 attempted murders and 116 rapes had been matched to 8,500 individuals who had been arrested but had charges dropped or had been acquitted of other crimes, the department said.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, welcomed the decision. “The court has used human rights principles and common sense to deliver the privacy protection of innocent people that the British Government has shamefully failed to deliver,” she said.
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Old 05-24-10, 07:35 PM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
ummmm........no.
And to that I can only say this: Either we are FREE or we are NOT FREE!
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Old 05-25-10, 09:41 AM
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Re: The slippery slope of DNA collection upon arrest

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
....and your scenario's so ridiculous, I won't even bother to comment further.
Of course my scenario was ridiculous. As was your original statement.
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