DNA: US follows UK

In a controversial move the US is following the UK in creation of laws to acquire DNA from suspects (i.e innocent and guilty people), rather than only the guilty.

Currently the US laws are mixed, with some states allowing collection of DNA prior to conviction or charge, but others allowing it on arrest.

The current laws are set to allow the US federal agents (e.g FBI, DEA, ATF, etc) to collect DNA on arrest of any person committing a “felon”, and any non-US citizen connecting any crime.

The UK laws have followed similar changes, though are around 5 years ahead of the US.

The laws in the UK initially allowed the DNA to be taken only from those charged and kept only if they were convicted. Then it was change so that the DNA could be kept even if the person was later found not guilty.

Then it was changed again, allowing the police to take DNA from any person, regardless of the crime upon arrest. There was no longer a requirement to convict or even charge people to obtain, or retain, the DNA.

However the UK has now gone through the cycle and these laws have been tested in the European Court of Human Rights – the equivalent of the US Supreme Court.

In the case of S and Marper v United Kingdom, it was found that the UK had over stepped its remit and breached the basic rights of the individuals “S” and “Marper” whose DNA had been retained, despite not being convicted of any crime.

In addition to this it is well known that there are errors with DNA databases, and that mass DNA databases do not work as effectively as politicians imply.

It should be remembered that as laws change, so do the goal posts of what is an is not acceptable.

Originally DNA was only taken from the guilty, then it was only retained from the guilty, now it can be taken from anyone.It used to be that the DNA would only be used for law enforcement purposes, but in the UK that has already changed as DNA samples have been sold onto other companies.

Laws change, and once the DNA data exists it can be used or misused, as much as the government allows.

No doubt the US will follow suit on this as well.

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2 Responses to “DNA: US follows UK”

  1. DNA: US Law, DNA and the Fourth Amendment « Data - Where is it? Says:

    […] Data – Where is it? Where is your data? Who collects, controls, and searches it? « DNA: US follows UK […]


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