Sunday, 12 August 2007

The World's Biggest DNA Database

In one of my earlier blog entries about the UK being the ultimate Big Brother state, I touched on the Police's national DNA Database. Well I recently discovered more than 715,000 DNA records were added to the UK national Police database last year, which brings the total number of DNA records to a staggering 4 Million records, making it the world's biggest DNA database.

So what if you are an upstanding UK citizen, do not be fooled into thinking that this DNA database isn’t of concern, as if any of your relatives have DNA on the Police system, then that DNA can lead the Police to your door. There have already been several high profile cases of the Police tracking down criminals through relatives DNA, the most notable was the Yorkshire ripper hoaxer, who was tracked using DNA evidence collected over 25 years ago.

Personally I like the idea of the Police having a national DNA database, as it helps to catch the bad guys and provides a deterrent, especially to serious crimes. Some of the interesting effects of DNA profiling have already seen British prisons overflowing, even though the crime rate has been steadily declining for years. Others say it is leading to lazy policing and lazy courtrooms, in that Police go straight for the DNA evidence rather than use traditional policing methods, with DNA evidence being enough to convict within the courtroom, when DNA evidence isn't fool proof.

It is very clear the UK Police have an agenda to get everyone within the UK on this database, and they recently made noises about wanting to collect DNA from speeding drivers and even litterbugs. If this sort of civil liberty infringement scares you, you might be very interested to learn since April 2004, any child aged ten or above who has been arrested (not convicted) in England or Wales, can have their DNA and fingerprints taken without parental consent, apparently over 100,000 innocent children's DNA is on the database permanently.

From my point of view, I am very interested in the security measures in place to protect data within the DNA database. I will try to dig further into how the Police are securing this clearly very sensitive database. But the Police being the Police, they should already have a good security culture, and due to the very sensitive nature of the database and that the last thing the Police would want is a security breach, as the negatitive publicity could put the brakes on getting everyone "in" the database, I suspect good security will be in place, well hopefully. To be honest I’d be worried if they were to start sharing the database with other bodies like research organisations and the NHS (Medical). And what if the state could tell by persons DNA profile, whether that person was more inclined to criminal activity, think “Minority Report”!


Dave Whitelegg CISSP said...

Scratch my trust in the Security of Police IT systems...
Forensic data stolen in burglary

Anonymous said...

this does nit tell you how it is used or who it was made by it would really help if it did