The UK Human Genetics Commission reports on DNA database sweeps by the British police:
It is now the norm to arrest offenders for everything if there is a power to do so … It is apparently understood by serving police officers that one of the reasons, if not the reason, for the change in practice is so that the DNA of the offender can be obtained: samples can be obtained after arrest but not if there is a report for summons. It matters not, of course, whether the arrest leads to no action, a caution or a charge, because the DNA is kept on the database anyway
According to the HGC report, UK police have changed practices, making an arrest for a traffic violation instead of a ticket, making an arrest for loitering instead of a warning, in order to add more and more British citizens’ samples to the DNA database. It doesn’t matter if it turns out you’re not guilty of any crime; your DNA remains in the government database. Even active, repeated requests by innocent people to have their DNA taken out of the system are turned down as a matter of practice:
while it has remained possible for an individual citizen to apply to the relevant Chief Constable, who remains the ‘owner’ of the sample profile, to have their record removed from the database, the criterion for removal has consistently been that the case exhibits ‘exceptional’ circumstances. These are nowhere defined, but the guidance given by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) gives a flavour of how exceptional they need to be. It indicates that a first application should be met with automatic refusal, and a second or persistent application considered only in exceptional cases, and then referred to the DNA and fingerprint retention project.
The high standard for an “exceptional case”: “People arrested for an offence that turns out, upon investigation, never to have taken place.”
Well, that’s bloody awful for the Brits, but at least we can thank our lucky stars that the authorities here in the United States would never do such a…
F.B.I. and States Vastly Expand DNA Databases
Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts. But starting this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial…
The F.B.I., with a DNA database of 6.7 million profiles, expects to accelerate its growth rate from 80,000 new entries a year to 1.2 million by 2012 — a 15-fold increase….
The article I’ve cited was written in April 2009. By September 2009, the FBI’s DNA database had grown to 7.4 million profiles. Forget 2012: the annual growth rate of the database is already speeding along at a clip of 1.68 million new entrants per year.
And who’s in charge of watching over this newly expanded FBI database? Don’t worry: the FBI has looked into the FBI’s use of the FBI database and determined that the FBI is doing the right thing.
The FBI’s Senior Privacy Official has reviewed the National DNA Index System (NDIS), and taking into account the need for this system and the privacy risks and protections discussed herein, the FBI approves the FBI’s use of this system.
So don’t you worry your little head none. You’ll just get upset, and goodness knows the FBI doesn’t want you to get upset. Anxiety has its downsides. Over in Britain, they might arrest you for it.