by team UAB, jla
If we, as a society, continue to solely rely on DNA databases for conviction of crimes, then what's next? Profiling based on genetic code could become a possibility (anyone seen the movie Gataca?).
|In Britain, a national criminal database established in 1995 now contains 2.5 million DNA samples. Countries including the United States and Canada are developing similar systems.|
Jeffreys, who was knighted in 1994, welcomes DNA databases but has qualms about how the British one has been set up. He fears that stored DNA samples could be used to extract information about a person’s medical history, ethnic origin or psychological profile.
And he opposes the practice, approved by a British court in 2002, of retaining DNA samples from suspects who are acquitted, leading to a “criminal” database that contains many people guilty of no crime.
“My view is, that is discriminatory,” Jeffreys said. “It works on a premise that the suspect population, even if innocent, is more likely to offend in the future.”
Jeffreys advocates a truly national database including every individual, with strict restrictions on what information could be stored.
“There is the long-term risk that people can get into these samples and start teasing out additional information” about a person’s paternity or risk of disease, he said. “The police have absolutely no right to that sort of information.”.