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Britain: Government reneges on DNA privacy promise

27 July, 2011
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This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Britische Regierung bricht ihr Versprechen DNA-Daten zu löschen


In Britain, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has announced that it will not delete the DNA records of suspects who were arrested but subsequently acquitted or never charged. It had promised to delete them following the Marper judgement, where the European Court of Human Rights found it was unlawful to keep the DNA of acquitted people indefinitely; this promise was enshrined in the Coalition Agreement that set up the Government after the indecisive 2010 election.

But the Government now says it will rely on "anonymisation". The DNA records of innocent people will be retained by the forensic service without the suspect's names and addresses. When a match is found with crime-scene DNA in the future, the innocent former suspect can be identified by matching the sample bar code with the records of the police force that arrested him last time. The Government may argue that this complies with UK data protection law, which is a defective implementation of the Data Protection Directive. However it fails to satisfy European and human-rights law.

The announcement was made quietly on Monday, 25 July 2011, while the press's focus was on the killings in Norway.

Innocent people's DNA profiles won't be deleted after all, minister admits (26.07.2011)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8660821/Innocent-...

Database State (2009)
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/database-state.pdf

(Contribution by Ross Anderson - EDRi-member FIPR - UK)

 

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