Trevor Mendham

UK Civil Liberties - New Labour's Record

DNA Database

The police already have a database containing the DNA of more than two million UK citizens. This week (September 2003) the Police Superintendents' Association is expected to call for a national DNA database of every citizen.

Such a DNA database would be a massive intrusion of privacy. Your DNA contains information on your racial background, physical characteristics, propensity to disease, etc, etc. Some people even believe that your DNA could specify your sexuality.

It must be stressed that the DNA database in use today does not contain such personal information. The DNA analysis for an individual today consists of ten pairs of measurements ("alleles") taken from what is commonly called junk DNA. However, as technology improves it will become easier to analyse and record more of an individual's DNA. Combine this with the desire of all governments for ever-more information on their people and it becomes "logical" to extend the database. All in the name of making it more reliable and useful.

Even with today's limited measurements, any compulsory National DNA Database would be the thin end of a dangerous wedge.

As more of the genetic code is cracked, more and more information about you will be available from your DNA. Do you really want that on a central government database?

Of course, we are given assurances that such information will not be misused. Experience has shown that such assurances are worthless.

The Home Office has said that there are currently no plans for such a nationwide database. However David "Big" Blunkett has previously praised the existing database as a "huge achievement". If he gets away with introducing compulsory National Identity Cards for innocent British citizens then combining these with a DNA database would be a "logical" next step.

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