National DNA Database, Why Not?

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  • National DNA Database, Why Not?
  • DNA testing is not 100% accurate, yet is treated as such. Having everyone on file will increase the ammount of false positives and potentially cause the false accusation and possibly even conviction of innocent people.
    Targetted testing of those suspected of a specific crime has a much higher valid positive success rate.

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    If you could guarantee its security and it was only used by medics to help you then it would be fine.
    But you can’t and it wouldn’t.

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    False positives, future increases in scope, invasion of privacy.

    ooOOoo
    Member

    In a free country, why would the state need to have a record of everyone’s DNA.

    sofatester
    Member

    We have nothing to fear…

    Premier Icon Flaperon
    Subscriber

    Seems a great idea until you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    donald
    Member

    I’d be bricking it if I were Prince Harry.

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    Do you think that the government and police are entirely benign and entirely competent?

    G
    Member

    Anyone genuinely know what degree of false positives that there are? Presumably, that fact makes it easy to defend a case for your brief and the fact that your DNA is found at a crime scene does not automatically make you guilty, especially if you can validate a reason for being there, so what other reason?

    Regarding invasion of Privacy, in what way? Is it any more of an invasion of privacy than my Doctor having detailed records of my medical history, which he can and will divulge in certain circumstances?

    Future increase in scope, could you expand that point TJ?

    kennyNI
    Member

    Future crime investigation methods:

    First they (they being the equivalent of the stasi) collect ALL DNA samples at crime scene, then arrest everyone that shows up. Then you will have to prove that you are innocent.

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    Future increases in scope. release of data to insurance companies. “ah ha – you have a marker for cancer – your house insurance premium goes up” that sort of thing

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Surely having everyone on file would help to defend against false positives?

    It would be impossible for the prosecution to argue that the DNA evidence was conclusive if the defence could show that it also matched 30 other people in the database.

    joemarshall
    Member

    Anyone genuinely know what degree of false positives that there are? Presumably, that fact makes it easy to defend a case for your brief and the fact that your DNA is found at a crime scene does not automatically make you guilty, especially if you can validate a reason for being there, so what other reason?

    It’s very hard to defend a case based on DNA evidence statistics, as it is very hard to put across Bayes’ theorem in court in such a way that juries and judges can understand it (even if you could get your own lawyer to understand it). Gerd Gigerenzer’s has a good bit about exactly this (and is a fascinating read anyway).

    Joe

    falkirk_mark
    Member

    You walk home from the pub pissed as a fart drinking from a beer bottle you should not have taken ,you discard said bottle and some henious crime happens there. Police come and find bottle but can find no evidence of anyone else being there. (would you fancy your chances not to be fitted up)

    joemarshall
    Member

    It would be impossible for the prosecution to argue that the DNA evidence was conclusive if the defence could show that it also matched 30 other people in the database.

    Yes, because defence lawyers are often allowed to perform DNA searches? Or do you just mean statistically using bayes theorem. The prosecution will still say ‘there is a 1 in a million chance that this DNA wasn’t from you’ or something roughly factual but ignoring the populations involved, surely, and it’s hard to argue against that kind of stuff.

    Joe

    thomthumb
    Member

    why shuld i give up what is essentially private info.

    to prove i did not commit a crime, that i did not and had no intention of committing – just doesn’t hold up.

    richc
    Member

    I believe that in the UK there are 6 other people with similar enough DNA to count as a *match*. As the population increases so will the matches.

    If you go to court and the prosecution have DNA evidence it it counted as FACT, and other matches are discounted so you are pretty much screwed.

    So it depends on how lucky (or unlucky) you are feeling.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    0.0001% chance of false positive which is about 1 in a million if my maths is right???

    so yeah there are chances of false positive
    but DNA alone should not be enough to convict you

    also problematic for identical twins and chimeric people- which we know very little about

    insurance is a big worry but medical benefits are huuuuuge, if used correctly

    paternity issues may be a problem, i worked in a linkage analysis lab hunting for genes assosciated with diseases in families, about 1 family in 10 had a child in there whos dad wasnt who mum said he was

    if managed properly the benefits outweigh any worries about privacy imo, its just making sure that you have a robust reliable management of the database,

    it may take a lot of mistakes before its right

    but DNA alone should not be enough to convict you

    Key word = “should”

    G
    Member

    joemarshall – Member

    It’s very hard to defend a case based on DNA evidence statistics, as it is very hard to put across Bayes’ theorem in court in such a way that juries and judges can understand it (even if you could get your own lawyer to understand it). Gerd Gigerenzer’s http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reckoning-Risk-Learning-Live-Uncertainty/dp/0140297863″>Reckoning With Risk has a good bit about exactly this (and is a fascinating read anyway).

    So how can a DNA Database impact on that situation either way? Surely it makes easier to prove similarities rather than the other way around.

    falkirk_mark – Member

    You walk home from the pub pissed as a fart drinking from a beer bottle you should not have taken ,you discard said bottle and some henious crime happens there. Police come and find bottle but can find no evidence of anyone else being there. (would you fancy your chances not to be fitted up)

    Same point as above regarding defending in court.

    kennyNI – Member

    Future crime investigation methods:

    First they (they being the equivalent of the stasi) collect ALL DNA samples at crime scene, then arrest everyone that shows up. Then you will have to prove that you are innocent.

    So in a police state they could impose a DNA database anyway, so the fact we had one would not make that scenarion any more or less likely, so really its not a valid point.

    TandemJeremy – Member
    Future increases in scope. release of data to insurance companies. “ah ha – you have a marker for cancer – your house insurance premium goes up” that sort of thing TandemJeremy – Member

    An alternative view is that it might improve tyour chances of survival due to being pre-diagnosed and monitored thus actually reducing premiums. Besides whats to stop insurers from requiring a DNA sample as a condition of offering insurance?

    joemarshall
    Member

    0.0001% chance of false positive which is about 1 in a million if my maths is right???

    Isn’t it 0.0001% chance of two people having matching DNA under the test. Meaning that given a population of 50 million, there are 49 other people with the same DNA, and suddenly that 1 in a million doesn’t sound so good? (the actually figures are probably not quite so bad, probably more like 10 other people, but even so, it demonstrates why they couldn’t just rely on a database).

    Joe

    uplink
    Member

    Besides whats to stop insurers from requiring a DNA sample as a condition of offering insurance?

    I believe there’s an agreement between themselves not to do this at the moment – in the US there’s legislation to prevent DNA discrimination

    G
    Member

    uplink – Member

    Besides whats to stop insurers from requiring a DNA sample as a condition of offering insurance?

    I believe there’s an agreement between themselves not to do this at the moment – in the US there’s legislation to prevent DNA discrimination

    So thats 3 separate answers to TJ’s original point then.

    joemarshall – Member

    0.0001% chance of false positive which is about 1 in a million if my maths is right???

    Isn’t it 0.0001% chance of two people having matching DNA under the test. Meaning that given a population of 50 million, there are 49 other people with the same DNA, and suddenly that 1 in a million doesn’t sound so good? (the actually figures are probably not quite so bad, probably more like 10 other people, but even so, it demonstrates why they couldn’t just rely on a database).

    Joe

    Surely thats the other way around. Right now you’;re talking about a theory, with a database you’ve got exact evidence which can be used to derend a case as well as prosecute it.

    See what I mean? Not so easy to reject it when you actually get down to it.

    G
    Member

    On the way into work this am, we were having a conversation about the pros and cons of a national DNA database, and whilst I’ve had an automatic and instinctive reservation about such a thing, I couldn’t really think of a valid reason not to unless you have a criminal intent. I mean if someone nicks or loses it, what use is it, are they going to clone you??

    What actual impact could it have on your civil rights

    Thoughts to be used for the journey home please.

    As has been said, in the wrong hands your DNA profile would provide people with information about you that you wouldnt even know and could make insurance/mortgages and loads of other things impossible for many. Should people with shitty genes have to pay more into the NHS I mean some right wingers think people who smoke should have to pay for treatment… its a debate coming your way in the future.

    IanMunro
    Member

    See what I mean? Not so easy to reject it when you actually get down to it.

    Well that rather depends on what you believe is reasonable or necessary in soiciety rather that what is preferable for the state. You can make similar pragmatic arguments for installing cctv cameras in every home.

    G
    Member

    anagallis_arvensis – Member

    As has been said, in the wrong hands your DNA profile would provide people with information about you

    I think thats also been answered above.

    coffeeking
    Member

    Not wishing to be the devils advocate, just throwing thoughts out there, but…

    1) If you match 49 other people in your country and can explain your whereabouts, as can 48 others, the guilty party is going to stand out. If you can’t and someone else can’t then theres doubt. Combined with other evidence it should be pretty safe.

    2) Better differentiation between those who have illnesses (heart disease etc) would mean insurance companies load their premiums and reduce those without, rather than sharing the blame on everyone. Even if it doesnt benefit everyone, it seems more fair to me. I mean no-one likes having to pay more on their insurance premium on their nice car because some people are clumsy, or because other owners of that type of car are more likely to trash it and claim.

    Ultimately I dont like the idea at all, but I can think of logical arguments in both directions.

    Midnighthour
    Member

    You cant assume our govenments will stay benevolent for all time (the present one is sliding downhill as it is). Once your family DNA is collected, data from that will be held forever and could impact on future generations. Ask the Jewish people what is is like to be traced and condemned for your genetic links.

    Also, when the data is leeked via private security companies etc (as all data seems to be!) you and your decendents may have problems getting life insurance, general loans, home morgages, business loans, medical insurance etc becasue any genetic pre-disposition to life threatening or life shortening disease will mean you (and all of your reletives and of your own future descendents) are not a safe ‘bet’ and will either be refused or have to pay much higher premiums than other people.

    Remember when you say ‘yes’ you are saying it for all of your reletives and descendents and not just for you alone, in the legal and moral climate we have during our lifetimes.

    willard
    Member

    Didn’t the papers report a while ago that access to parts of the National ID card database would be sold out to private companies for marketing and research purposes?

    You would assume that the information that they are tracking in that database would be pretty private, something that only the government should have and certainly not distributed to 3rd parties, but they will do it to get money from it.

    Now imagine the whole of the UK on a DNA database. What do you think they would consider doing if they wanted a bit of extra income from, say, GSK or BUPA? Cross my palm with silver and you could have access to 50million DNA records that could help you with your research. Then maybe you’d suddenly find yourself unable to get personal insurance of some sort because of a condition you did not know you had.

    As far as easier crime solving goes, the burden of proof should be on the police to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, rather than to be in the position of the defendant to prove their innocence. That’s the basis of our legal system and something like that would undermine the whole thing.

    G
    Member

    IanMunro – Member

    Well that rather depends on what you believe is reasonable or necessary in soiciety rather that what is preferable for the state. You can make similar pragmatic arguments for installing cctv cameras in every home

    Like I said I’ve had an automatic and instinctive reservation about such a thing, but I was really struggling this am to argue against it. As you can see above most of the standard arguments were reasonably deflected or even debunked during the conversation, and frankly I’m struggling to argue the point. So apart from nebulous points, why not?

    porterclough
    Member

    As far as I know we’ve never had a universal fingerprint database of all citizens in the uk, the police are only entitled to fingerprint suspects. I fail to see why after 100 years of keeping our fingerprints to ourselves without a problem there’s suddenly a need to collect DNA data on us all – especially when, as others have pointed out, DNA evidence is likely to be misrepresented as ‘proof’ in court by people who don’t understand probability properly.

    As has been said, in the wrong hands your DNA profile would provide people with information about you

    I think thats also been answered above.

    Strange seeing as how its not a question

    An alternative view is that it might improve tyour chances of survival due to being pre-diagnosed and monitored thus actually reducing premiums. Besides whats to stop insurers from requiring a DNA sample as a condition of offering insurance?

    If you think this would put my mind at rest your mistaken. Firstly I want to live my life and not be worried about whether my fathers cancer was genetic and was passed onto me. And secondly any government that would allow insurance companies to require DNA tests should be lined up and shot at the first possible oportunity.

    IanMunro
    Member

    So apart from nebulous points, why not?
    How you want society to exist is hardly nebulous.
    What are the arguments that have been debunked btw? I haven’t seen them debunked. It’s a pointless unnecessary invasion of privacy. Comparing it to the voluntary existence of medical records is meaningless.
    If society can existing quite happily without something then you need some seriously good reasons for introducing something.

    ooOOoo
    Member

    If you are in favour of an enforced DNA database, I would welcome your answer to this related question:

    “When will we have enough CCTV?”

    Premier Icon Del
    Subscriber

    As you can see above most of the standard arguments were reasonably deflected or even debunked during the conversation, and frankly I’m struggling to argue the point

    i think your interpretation of the responses above and mine differs somewhat.
    only in a police state is a policeman’s job easy.

    avdave2
    Member

    I believe that the first time DNA was used in in the courts in this country it was to prove that a man who had confessed to a murder was innocent. There was a radio 4 play/documentary about it a while ago. One of those where they dramatise events while cutting away occasionally to a commentary from someone involved in the event. As for a database I’m not sure how useful that would be. I may well be wrong but I think it’s usually not a problem for the police to have a good idea who did something it’s proving it that can be the challenge.

    konabunny
    Member

    Wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper and easier to, say, make it a law that everyone’s mobile phone had to log their movements every hour of the day, and that that log was uploaded to the cops every evening?

    And that everyone had to give the cops a copy of their housekeys, just in case?

    And curtains were banned?

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