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Are DNA databases a good idea?

November 19th, 2009
04:09 PM ET

The introduction of DNA technology in crime scene analysis has provided a valuable tool for detectives who might otherwise be struggling for clues in their race to track perpetrators and prevent further felonies. [cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/19/art.dnacomputer.jpg
caption="DNA tests can drastically speed up police work."]

But, while it professes to drastically reduce error in securing convictions, its advent is not without controversy –particularly over the setting up of DNA databases.

Several law enforcement bodies, primarily in Britain, Australia and the U.S. state of California, are currently using DNA databases to hold data that could be used to identify criminals at a later date, but debate rages over how far they should go.

Some proposals for databases envisage collecting and retaining data from citizens linked to crime, even if they are proved innocent. Others are more extensive, seeking data from all citizens, whether linked to a crime or not.

Those in favor of databases say they would speed up police work and help tackle terrorists using false identities. People who have not done anything wrong, they say, have nothing to fear.

Those against databases warn of "Big Brother" regimes that would turn their country's citizens into "a nation of suspects," using costly layers of bureaucracy that could be exploited by corrupt police and others illegally trading in personal data.

What do you think about DNA databases? Would you voluntarily give your details to one? Post your comment below and join the Connect The World Skype chat today at 1800 GMT. All you need is a Skype username.


Filed under:  General
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Tom

    I think that this is a great idea, it would solve a lot of future crimes a lot faster and with better rates atleast 60% higher rates. I don't know about most people, but for me if anyone would do anything to my daughter i would like to know that there is a better chance of them getting caught than it becoming one of the many unsolved cases.

    November 19, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  2. DNA opposer

    Sounds almost like what the Communists did (complete control over population) and the West opposed. Now we are doing it with a different justification...

    November 19, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  3. James Woods

    I believe this could be an effective tool for solving crime, but only with strong legislation and accountability. Police abuse their access to information constantly. I know this by speaking with a police officer about the subject. This system should be implemented with the pretense of including repeat offenders with exceptions for first time sexual offenders and violent crimes. The largest challenge in this day and age with technology like this will be maintaining the public's trust, which is obviously shaky right now. (because some fascists don't like a -er- 'unqualified' man in the white house).

    November 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  4. José

    Well , as with all the information we give the government we would have to trust them with this one too, I think it will help catch criminals faster and ID bodies in case of grave incidents.

    In the country where I live, the government already has everybody´s fingerprints (you get fingerprinted while getting ID card and Drivers License) and even with that criminals are hard to get.

    I Agree with this genera DNA database but it will need sufficient safeguards

    November 19, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  5. nwaete kamsi I

    I do not really know how effective the DNA test is because it is yet to be adopted in Nigeria, but I guess it works more often than not if not it would not still be in use by security agents.I would be happy if African security agents, south africa and Nigeria in particular could adopt this DNA mechanism,it will in a high way reduce crime as most of this criminals as well as militants go scot free and walk the streets freely even after committing an obvious crime

    November 19, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  6. shaban

    No i dont believe it would be a good idea, there is already too much injustice in this world, this would just be an excuse for the police to waste more time and frame more innocent people who would simply be victims of injustice.

    November 20, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  7. Dennis Hulse, Palmerston North, New Zealand

    Like most things that evolve over time DNA databases are just another as long as they are used for good outcomes for society. Just as the Internet started off as a communication medium forty years ago crime resolutions are the thin edge of the purpose for DNA databases. Now we have medical and agricultural applications emerging that will greatly benefit humanity in the future. Paternity fraud in Australia and probably in most western countries is an emerging cival and social security issue that the DNA database will inhibit in the future. It is a bit like the personal identity – privacy issue, if you have nothing to hide what is the problem? I'm all for them and the benefits that will evolve with time. Dennis Hulse

    November 25, 2009 at 10:25 pm | Reply

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