UK Government’s dubious DNA collection plan twarted by European Court

Seems likely that UK police forces will have to delete the DNA records of hundreds of thousands of innocent people – all of whom have no criminal convictions. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled today that retaining this data breaches human rights law. The Court said that keeping innocent people’s DNA records on a criminal database breaches Article Eight of the Human Rights Convention, covering the right to of privacy and family life. Apparently the British Government has until 2009 March to decide what it is going to do. Currently, UK Police forces keep a staggering 4 million people’s DNA patterns on computer.

Of course some sceptical observers believe that police will keep the data anyway and threaten any whistle-blowers with prosecution under data-protection / secrecy / privacy laws. And if the coppers cock it up, get caught-out and the 5hit really hits the fan, then the Government will deny all knowledge and the whole thing will be blamed on (yet another) computer error.

Obviously no one wants rapists and criminals wandering the streets. However, I doubt that collecting lots of innocent people’s DNA would ever significantly reduce their numbers. Moreover, it seems to me that our biggest threat is not the criminal, or the terrorist. It is in fact our own Government.

Our Government has conned us into accepting curtailment of our civil liberties as part of its war on terror, involved us in an illegal and hugely expensive war in Iraq, based almost entirely on falsified evidence and it has repeatedly proved itself incapable of handling our sensitive personal data in a safe and responsible manner.

Now this Government is trying to force us to carry electronic ID cards, supported by the same incompetent private companies behind so many of its other expensive IT failures. Worse, these cards will not merely carry biometric and other sensitive data that we will not be able to access ourselves (unless we hack them), the cards will also be enable the authorities to identify us remotely as we walk through public places.

Of course, there are some that argue that if the Government mismanages ID cards in the same way it has mismanaged so many other publicly-funded IT projects, then these ID cards would actually be quite a boon for criminals and terrorists. If these cards are hacked, cracked or cloned then your personal information and even your personal identity could be available on the black market to the highest bidder, in a highly credible format.

Seriously scary stuff IMHO.

Honk! Honk!

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