back to article DNA database swells despite human rights ruling

An average of 40,000 profiles per month have been added to the National DNA Database since judges ruled the retention of samples from innocent people was illegal under human rights laws. More than 300,000 profiles have been added since the judgment last December. The figures, released on Tuesday, take the total number of …

COMMENTS

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  1. Myopic Aardvark
    Joke

    That last word...

    I read that as Replicants.... was wondering if we were going to start hiring Bladerunners to deal with them?!

  2. Mike007

    *It's estimated that 13.5 per cent are replicates.

    doesn't this fact alone completely destroy any credibility that they had for storing it in the first place? if not only do they have duplicates but they can only estimate how many they have, this shows they aren't very good at matching up samples, which is the whole reason they claim to want to store it in the first place

  3. Christoph
    Flame

    Merely a time limit?

    So what's the betting that due to the latest scare story the 6 to 12 year time limit has to be extended. And extended. And extended.

    But we're only keeping your details for a hundred years, then we're deleting it so you don't have a record any more!

  4. DrStrangeLug
    Black Helicopters

    Become an accessory.

    Since storage has been ruled illegal surely handing over these to the police upon request makes you an accessory ?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Duplicates....?

    So is this yet another database that is costing the tax payer millions, was built by buffoons who didn't really know what they were doing and obviously don't know how to do a simple delete statement with clauses so they don't get rid of the lot.

    Doesn't the NHS have delete query problems too on a patient database?

    Why do I get the impression that if this were any other country people would be suing the hell out of them right now?

  6. The Dorset Rambler
    Alert

    Replicates?

    If 13.5% are replicates (estimated) then surely this means that the [alleged] perps had at least two samples taken from them, at different times/places and that they were using a different identity.

    Prima facie case for another chat with the boys [& girls] in blue perhaps?

  7. Nathan 13

    Hold on a min

    I thought the chances of matching with someone else's DNA was "billions to 1".

    So how can they have even 1 duplicate.

    The whole things a joke.

  8. The Original Ash

    Nobody asks for them to be removed

    They're keeping the records because nobody is saying that they want them removed. Mainstream media didn't cover the ECHR decision, so the sheeple aren't bleating.

    Put the notice in the break between two acts in a Britains' Got Talent show and see the database empty.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    The Dorset Rambler

    "Prima facie case for another chat with the boys [& girls] in blue perhaps?"

    And another row in the database.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    A nice long time limit like 6 years

    gives them plenty of scope to just take your DNA again every time it's about to "expire"

    In 6 years time PCSOs will be able to take you DNA if they see you littering. So everyone will be caught littering at leas once every 6 years.

    And their helmet cameras will all catch fire when we want to see some proof.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When a Climbdown is Not Really a Climbdown

    Labour are particularly good at announcing a climbdown over an unpopular (or unlawful) policy then doing no such thing, e.g. ID cards, Interception Modernisation Programme, etc. It just shows you that once they are wedded to something, come hell or high water, they will implement it by the back or front door, whatever is the most expedient. They pay lip service to the idea of democracy, while finding it an inconvenience.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Dear European Court of Human Rights

    Fuck you.

    Signed,

    The Home Office.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @ Dorset Rambler

    Last time I checked, using a pseudonym isn't illegal.

    Or is that only here in Scotland too?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just stay away from the UK

    What they'll do is arrest those on the list every 6-12 years, since you don't actually need to charge anyone with anything they can keep the database stocked indefinitely.

    One more reason never to go there, never to set up a business there, never to expose your staff to the regime there. Apart from the economic problems in the UK, and the border entry and exit problems , and the surveillance problems (latest being GCHQ wanting to monitor every internet connection), the Human Rights issues mean it's not conducive to business.

  15. Mister_C
    Big Brother

    118 800 vs DNA db

    given the recent proof of prole pester power, it might be time for another viral email campaign...

  16. The Dorset Rambler
    Thumb Up

    @AC 11:17

    "Last time I checked, using a pseudonym isn't illegal."

    A fair point, well made.

    But since when do you have to do anything illegal to get on this particular database (Aaron, where are you).

    And tbh, using a pseudonym AND getting fingered twice *is* a little sus...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    The Audacity of it...

    ... is truely staggering! Labour have always adopted a "Nanny knows best" approach to security issues, but it takes a pair of solid brass nuts to not only ignore an ECHR ruling but actually do the complete opposite in real terms (I agree wholeheartedly with commentators who say people on the db will be picked up every 6 years). This is an absolute masterclass in taking the piss.

    AC because the databases are coming, and I don't want to be caught up in their web

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    REAL reason for keeping the data

    ...it's because eventually they're going to have to work out who are jews, black, foreigners, gypsies and communists.

    Then they can send them all to labour camps. Admittedly, DNA records can't help them determine if you are a communist.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Relax

    Don't worry, they probably will be using SQL Server by Microsoft, so there is scope for dropping the records remotely through exploits, hehe!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Chance Duplicates

    It's sometimes said that the chances of two, randomly chosen people having the same DNA profile (a chance match) are something like one in a billion. We're supposed to believe, on that basis, that chance matches between different people are fantastically unlikely.

    There are over 60 million people in the UK.

    How many different pairs of people could be drawn from that population? (Bear in mind that each person can be paired up with over 60 million others.)

    The answer is over 1.8 quadrillion. That's 1.8 million billion different pairs.

    If just one in a billion such pairs happen to have the same DNA profiles, then that's about 1.8 million pairs of people who, just by chance, have the same DNA profiles.

    That 1.8 million pairs will include some criminals, including some terrorists, paedophiles, rapists and murderers. Oh, and perhaps a few dozen MPs, as well. Along with the innocent people who, through no fault of their own, just happen to have the same DNA profiles.

    I'd like to know what the Home Office have to say about that.

  21. James 47

    What actual data?

    What does the DB actually store? Is it possible to hash a DNA sequence?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: What actual data?

    James 47 asked, "What does the DB actually store? Is it possible to hash a DNA sequence?"

    It's pretty much that. Some kind of hash, in effect, of seemingly meaningless bits of genetic padding.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_profile

  23. Scott 19
    Big Brother

    Contact Point

    Or whatever the new surf childrens DB is called. And how many MPs DNA is on it? some of these guys have broken the law by commiting fraud but do you think they are on it?

    Nope me neither. One rule for them, one for us.

    I say go the way of our French friends and bring back the guillotin, try them for treason adn chop there heads off may sound extreme but i bet it would clear up polotics quicker than you can say "put it on expenses"

  24. David Mery
    Big Brother

    Consultation closes Aug 7th

    As well as commenting on El Reg, you may want to send your views to the Home Office. consultation by Aug 7th. Details at

    http://tellthemwhatyouthink.org/view/con-2255-keeping-right-people-dna-database

    > What does the DB actually store?

    For an exhaustive list of all the fields in the NDNAD see:

    http://gizmonaut.net/blog/uk/2009/06/NDNAD_full_dna_profile_record.html

    br -d

  25. Playjam
    Boffin

    @AC: REAL reason for keeping the data

    Actually you can find out about jewish, black or whatever ancestry using DNA samples for a couple of years now. According to the guys who run www.rootsforreal.com you need high resolution mtDNA sampling and specific Y-DNA markers and a huge geographic dna database to do this. Apparently this technique is already being used in the forensic sciences. The "DNA fingerprint" (autosomal DNA) used in court for identifying parentage or murderers is only suitable for detecting recent ancestry up to the grandfather generation, if you're lucky. According to wiki the UK National DNA Database only stores the "DNA fingerprint", so you're safe for now Mr Cohen or is it Yoruba?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    I must be getting older or wiser...

    On one hand I can understand the Government holding the sheeple's hands because the country as a whole is turning into brain dead, Britain's got talent watching, Daily Mirror (Mail) reading Big Brother loving zombies who have devalued the evolutionary gene pool considerably.

    The fact is the Government can get away with this because our nation have become so gormless they don't bother finding out what's really happening in the World are content getting told what to say and do. Until the collective brain matter turns around and becomes great than that of a large pile of elephant dung we will continue with this nonsense with no recourse.

  27. asdf
    FAIL

    Death to NuLab (party not people)

    Christ if us dumb yanks can get rid of the Nazi wing of the Republican party you would think by now the more "refined" and "civilized" Brits would have gotten rid of the cancer that is NuLab. What walking corpses that party is hopefully. Arguably the worse thing politically that has happened to the UK in a generation.

  28. Alex D
    Thumb Up

    Get ready to flame me...

    Is it such a bad idea for the police to have a database of DNA? IF (big if) kept securly... wouldnt it be a good idea ifthe govt had a record all all the citizens and people who enter the country.. surely it would be effectual in helping to identify those who commit crime... just as how cctv of one walking past helps identify you are there, it doesnt mean an automatic conviction but helps the police locate people...

    Get everyone's DNA on a decent database... keep it offline so it can't be spilled/copied on to the net and get some good encryption on it. simple.

    Flame away...

  29. Sir Runcible Spoon
    Flame

    don't hold your breathe

    "The fact is the Government can get away with this because our nation have become so gormless they don't bother finding out what's really happening in the World are content getting told what to say and do. Until the collective brain matter turns around and becomes great than that of a large pile of elephant dung we will continue with this nonsense with no recourse."

    I was at the G20 protest, and when I told my niece (20) and her boyfriend (22) - they just said "the what?"

    Gormless, useless twats who are only concerned with where their next piss-up is coming from.

    Bring in awareness-tested voting rights, coz then we could at least have an electorate that is aware of what the fuck is going on in the world.

  30. Graham Marsden
    FAIL

    @Alex D

    > Is it such a bad idea for the police to have a database of DNA?

    Ask Raymond Easton, the guy who, although suffering from Parkinsons Disease (which meant that he could barely walk to the front door unaided) was, none the less, arrested by Swindon Police on behalf of Greater Manchester Police because his DNA was "found" at the scene of a burglary. Except it turned out that it wasn't his DNA and it was a false positive.

    http://archive.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/2000/8/15/238098.html

    The fact that the guy was virtually immobile appeared to be utterly irrelevant to the Police, who in their simple minded way, decided that because there was a DNA match, he *must* have been the criminal.

    Now imagine that you sneeze into a hanky, someone else steals that hanky and drops it a the scene of a crime. "Oho!" says Mr Plod, "Let's check our database... Aha! Mr Alex D I arrest you for the crime of not thinking a bit more about the risks of false positives..."

  31. Cheese
    Coat

    @Alex D

    If we take your argument to its extreme logical conclusion...then we end up at the philosophy of Judge Death (from the comic 2000AD): since all crime is committed by the living, life itself is a crime.

    "The crime is life, the sentence is death!"

    Mine is the one next to the cannister of Boing!

  32. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    @Sir Runcible Spoon

    "I was at the G20 protest, and when I told my niece (20) and her boyfriend (22) - they just said "the what?"

    Welcome to what Isiah Berlin called "Negative Freedom."

    Better keep it simple for them. If in doubt. No need to ask, no need to know.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Verification required for maths-tard.

    "it's sometimes said that the chances of two, randomly chosen people having the same DNA profile (a chance match) are something like one in a billion. We're supposed to believe, on that basis, that chance matches between different people are fantastically unlikely.

    There are over 60 million people in the UK.

    How many different pairs of people could be drawn from that population? (Bear in mind that each person can be paired up with over 60 million others.)

    The answer is over 1.8 quadrillion. That's 1.8 million billion different pairs.

    If just one in a billion such pairs happen to have the same DNA profiles, then that's about 1.8 million pairs of people who, just by chance, have the same DNA profiles."

    I'm rubbish at maths and stats. Could someone verify that this is even roughly correct as I'd like to quote it when I next come across someone who tells me 'If you don't do anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about.!"

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Verification required for maths-tard.

    Let me show my working, just like in maths exams all those years ago when I was in school.

    Do it for a population of N people, and then set N equal to 60 million.

    Imagine N people. Each one could be paired with any of the N-1 others. So, for each person, that's N-1 pairs. And since there are N people altogether, that's N*(N-1) pairs.

    But these are ordered pairs. We're pairing Alice with Bob, (A, B), and also pairing Bob with Alice, (B, A). We're counting those as two pairs, when they're really the same pair reversed. So we need to discount all these duplicates. And since each pair will be effectively counted twice (once when pairing Alice with everyone else, (A, x), and once when pairing everyone else with Alice, (x, A), for example), that means we just need to halve the total. That gives us a total of N*(N-1)/2 distinct, unordered pairs.

    Or, counting it a different way, we can take the first of the N people, and pair them up with the N-1 others, producing N-1 pairs. Then, we can take the next person, and pair them up with the remaining N-2. The third gets paired up with the N-3 that are left. In total, we end up with N-1 + N-2 + N-3 + ... + 3 + 2 + 1 pairs. It turns out to be N*(N-1)/2 pairs altogether.

    Either way, for N people, there are N*(N-1)/2 distinct pairs.

    Try it with N=4, for Alice, Bob, Carol and Dave. You'll end up with six pairs (not including reversed duplicates). That's 4*(4-1)/2 = 4*3/2 = 12/2 = 6.

    And here are those pairs: (A, B), (A, C), (A, D), (B, C), (B, D), (C, D).

    Now set N to 60 million. That then gives 60,000,000*(60,000,000-1)/2

    = 30,000,000*(60,000,000-1)

    = 30,000,000*60,000,000 - 30,000,000

    = 1,800,000,000,000,000 - 30,000,000

    = 1,799,999,970,000,000 pairs.

    It is sometimes said that only one in a billion pairs of people would have the same DNA profile. So, divide the total number of pairs by one billion, 1,000,000,000, and that's the number of pairs that would be such pairs of people with the same DNA profiles as each other.

    For N=60,000,000, that's 1,799,999.97 pairs of people with the same DNA profiles. Or just three hundredths of a pair less than 1.8 million. Roughly.

    Now do it for the EU, with a population of about half a billion. You end up with about 125 million pairs with the same DNA profiles. That's going to include more people than in the whole of the UK population, and a sizeable chunk of the EU's population.

    And now do it for the global population of over six billion. If N=6,000,000,000, we get something like 18 billion pairs - more than the number of people in the world! That means the average person (for a suitable definition of the term "average") would be in more than one such pair. You are likely to have the same DNA profile as at least a few other people on this planet.

    Feel free to copy and paste this working-out if you find that helpful.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Holy smokes !!

    That's some mighty fine working out. Thanks for the explaination.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contributing badly

    So, following that line of thought.

    With 1.8 million unique pairs of people with the same DNA profile, the chances of me being one half of one of those pairs would be :

    1.8m / Population of UK.

    Therefore 18000000 / 60000000 = 0.03 so 3 in 100 chance or roughly 33/1 in horse betting terms.

    Someone correct my horrifyingly flawed maths/logic.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Contributing badly

    Each pair contains two people, so you have two chances to be in each pair. Also, some people are in more than one pair, so the total number of people in those 1.8 million pairs won't be the full 3.6 million. It's still going to be close to that, though. The result is that there's a more than one in twenty chance that someone else in the UK has the same DNA profile as you.

    Having said that, this is all a bit simplified, since DNA profiles also take sex into account, and close biological relatives are also more likely to have the same DNA profiles than would otherwise be the case. But, simplified though it is, it still gives an idea of how this one-in-a-billion stuff can easily turn out to be a huge case of lies, damned lies, and statistics.

  38. ElFatbob
    Stop

    @ Alex D

    One of many, many problems with having such a database is that DNA evidence is regarded as infallible, when it is clearly not. See points about false positives.

    Add perceived infallability and false positives and you have a tough job proving your innocence (remember, because it's DNA, your guilt has already been proven).

    And that's before I even get onto the government selling your data to health companies.

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