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Get your hands off my DNA + thoughtcrime.

zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
edited March 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
So, this story just hit slashdot and I'm thinking it may be worth discussing by us resident masterminds.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/mar/16/youthjustice.children
Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain's most senior police forensics expert.

Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.

'If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,' said Pugh. 'You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won't. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society.'

Pugh admitted that the deeply controversial suggestion raised issues of parental consent, potential stigmatisation and the role of teachers in identifying future offenders, but said society needed an open, mature discussion on how best to tackle crime before it took place. There are currently 4.5 million genetic samples on the UK database - the largest in Europe - but police believe more are required to reduce crime further. 'The number of unsolved crimes says we are not sampling enough of the right people,' Pugh told The Observer. However, he said the notion of universal sampling - everyone being forced to give their genetic samples to the database - is currently prohibited by cost and logistics.

Civil liberty groups condemned his comments last night by likening them to an excerpt from a 'science fiction novel'. One teaching union warned that it was a step towards a 'police state'.

Pugh's call for the government to consider options such as placing primary school children who have not been arrested on the database is supported by elements of criminological theory. A well-established pattern of offending involves relatively trivial offences escalating to more serious crimes. Senior Scotland Yard criminologists are understood to be confident that techniques are able to identify future offenders.

A recent report from the think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) called for children to be targeted between the ages of five and 12 with cognitive behavioural therapy, parenting programmes and intensive support. Prevention should start young, it said, because prolific offenders typically began offending between the ages of 10 and 13. Julia Margo, author of the report, entitled 'Make me a Criminal', said: 'You can carry out a risk factor analysis where you look at the characteristics of an individual child aged five to seven and identify risk factors that make it more likely that they would become an offender.' However, she said that placing young children on a database risked stigmatising them by identifying them in a 'negative' way.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, denounced any plan to target youngsters. 'Whichever bright spark at Acpo thought this one up should go back to the business of policing or the pastime of science fiction novels,' she said. 'The British public is highly respectful of the police and open even to eccentric debate, but playing politics with our innocent kids is a step too far.'

Chris Davis, of the National Primary Headteachers' Association, said most teachers and parents would find the suggestion an 'anathema' and potentially very dangerous. 'It could be seen as a step towards a police state,' he said. 'It is condemning them at a very young age to something they have not yet done. They may have the potential to do something, but we all have the potential to do things. To label children at that stage and put them on a register is going too far.'

Davis admitted that most teachers could identify children who 'had the potential to have a more challenging adult life', but said it was the job of teachers to support them.

Pugh, though, believes that measures to identify criminals early would save the economy huge sums - violent crime alone costs the UK £13bn a year - and significantly reduce the number of offences committed. However, he said the British public needed to move away from regarding anyone on the DNA database as a criminal and accepted it was an emotional issue.

'Fingerprints, somehow, are far less contentious,' he said. 'We have children giving their fingerprints when they are borrowing books from a library.'

Last week it emerged that the number of 10 to 18-year-olds placed on the DNA database after being arrested will have reached around 1.5 million this time next year. Since 2004 police have had the power to take DNA samples from anyone over the age of 10 who is arrested, regardless of whether they are later charged, convicted, or found to be innocent.

Concern over the issue of civil liberties will be further amplified by news yesterday that commuters using Oyster smart cards could have their movements around cities secretly monitored under new counter-terrorism powers being sought by the security services.
I'm always trying to be extremely protective(read paranoid) about my(and my families & friends) personal information and well, DNA, prints & retinal scans are pretty much on top of that list. The idea of profiling 5 year olds as future criminals honestly sends shivers through my spine. I can probably count the coherent memories before my 10th birthday on my fingers and well, being in "pseudo" wars with other kids running around and breaking stuff are really high up there as pretty sweet moments. There is just no way any kind of child behaviour should be associated with future criminal activity. 10 year old master bully? No sir, that is NOT the drug lord of tomorrow.(of course, if there is evidence of mental problems, help should be consulted but I don't think that's to the point in this topic)
I also have a problem with the stance of Mr Pugh, it seems to me, that he isn't talking about crime prevention, but about crime prediction & probability
How is your DNA D&D? Do you give it freely to people(vaginas excluded)? Would you be ok with the above suggestions and even if not, do you believe that pre-crime profiling should be taken a step further?
Discuss. And flame.

Edit: I also have a problem with taking DNA samples from 10 year olds, so discuss current laws as well.
edit2: shit was full of typos, tried to clean it up.

zeeny on
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Posts

  • PicardathonPicardathon Registered User
    edited March 2008
    Hmmm... "behaviour indicating that they may become criminals later in life"
    Seems like a big excuse to get the DNA of all the minorities in Great Britain. May not be the intent, but latent racism will most likely get through in the end. I already see the study "98% of all children who have DNA in the database are of African or Middle eastern origin."

  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I wholeheartedly support anonymous mass-DNA databanks for scientific research but that is about it. I think this article seems a bit alarmist, though. How often does retarded stuff like this ever work out? The answer is rarely to never.

    39kEWYh.jpg
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2008
    Well, this might spell problems for Li'l Hitler

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • Marty81Marty81 Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    How is their DNA bank used? It looks like they just gather DNA evidence from a crime scene and then plug it into the database looking for a match. If that's the case, then this seems like a bad idea, because adding more people to the database serves to increase the chances of false matches. You hear odds like "one in a million," but with 4.5 million samples already in the database...

    I'd be a bit more likely to endorse something like this once the general public starts to understand statistics, and understands that genetic evidence is just evidence, not proof.

  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Marty81 wrote: »
    How is their DNA bank used? It looks like they just gather DNA evidence from a crime scene and then plug it into the database looking for a match. If that's the case, then this seems like a bad idea, because adding more people to the database serves to increase the chances of false matches. You hear odds like "one in a million," but with 4.5 million samples already in the database...

    I'd be a bit more likely to endorse something like this once the general public starts to understand statistics, and understands that genetic evidence is just evidence, not proof.


    I'm actually against the idea of being catalogued in such a way, without any regard of how it's used. I do not believe any organization(government included) should have a sample of somebody's genetic material without specific authorization by said person.(of course, in some cases right to refuse may be waived, but there should be very clear privacy regulations detailing the whole process). IMO, the current situation on DNA databases is: go ahead with anything you can get away with and unfortunately that's pretty much everything as long as you can pass it under the "for the greater good" banner. I actually expect to see "fine prints" on medical forms dealing with the hospital's ability to share your genetic material the same way they do with medical records now within my lifetime.

    Edit: Also, I agree about your point on evidence & proof. For most people out there, just mentioning DNA evidence in a crime leads to immediate presumption of guilt or innocence.

  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2008
    What about a financial incentive to give authorization?

    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    From the stories I've heard about my uncle, he was a hellraiser when he was younger. He was the kind that, if he were a kid today, would have been drugged up, profiled, and put away. I mean, quite literally blowing stuff up. Now in his fifties, he's one of the most subdued, conservative family men you would ever meet, and you would never guess that he was like that when he was younger.

    My point is that psychological profiling of kids is complete and utter bullshit. It doesn't tell you a damn thing about them or how they're going to grow up, and is most likely being perpetrated by psychologists and doctors looking to make a name for themselves and create work so they can keep the cash flowing.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Dalboz wrote: »
    My point is that psychological profiling of kids is complete and utter bullshit. It doesn't tell you a damn thing about them or how they're going to grow up, and is most likely being perpetrated by psychologists and doctors looking to make a name for themselves and create work so they can keep the cash flowing.

    Well, a child that shows signs of destructive behavior now is more likely to grow up to become a criminal than a child that does not show signs of destructive behavior. This is a trend, not a magic crystal ball - obviously there are going to be kids who get better and kids who get worse.

    But if a child is determined to be troubled, putting his or her DNA in a database is the wrong course of action to take... partly because it is just a trend, it is not a perfect indicator, so you're running the risk of stigmatizing and labeling kids who would not turn out to be criminals.

    Besides, it does nothing to actually prevent the future criminal behavior. If a kid is troubled, then put him in therapy. Call a meeting with his parents and find out what's going on at home. Take proactive steps, don't just record his identity and hope that 20 years down the line you cataloged the right people.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited March 2008
    Personally I'm more worried about nice kids who turn out to be violent criminals, because you don't see it coming.

    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Ragamuffin Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I'd be happier with sampling every child instead of certain ones.

    Note that I am against sampling children at all.

    efsx.jpg
  • AegeriAegeri Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    I'd be happier with sampling every child instead of certain ones.

    Note that I am against sampling children at all.

    Well, it's not about what they put in when they give you your vaccination but what they take out.

    wc269.gif

  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Ragamuffin Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    I'm not kidding.

    Only sampling certain people instead of everyone implies a sort of second-class citizenship. At age 5.

    efsx.jpg
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    I'd be happier with sampling every child instead of certain ones.

    Note that I am against sampling children at all.

    What's the problem with a DNA database again? I've never understood the objections.

  • AegeriAegeri Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    I'd be happier with sampling every child instead of certain ones.

    Note that I am against sampling children at all.

    What's the problem with a DNA database again? I've never understood the objections.

    Eugenics and personal privacy are the two main concerns.

  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Ragamuffin Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    I'd be happier with sampling every child instead of certain ones.

    Note that I am against sampling children at all.

    What's the problem with a DNA database again? I've never understood the objections.

    Let's say this dude named Joe murders a guy and they lift half a finger print from the crime scene. His bit of fingerprint looks a lot like mine (which they would have if I was in a database).

    I come up as a possible match and am made a suspect in a muder.

    efsx.jpg
  • DukiDuki Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    I'd be happier with sampling every child instead of certain ones.

    Note that I am against sampling children at all.

    What's the problem with a DNA database again? I've never understood the objections.

    From the article, I gather that it wouldn't be anonymous, because it's attempting to figure out future criminals.

    So it's a pretty terrible infringement of civil liberties. And at age five, I mean it's retarded. Kids are all little assholes anyway. No one should take little Timmy's DNA and brand him potential-criminal or whatever because he kept pulling Jenny's hair in first grade.

    So not only do you have another needless cataloging of private information, you set up a system of essentially second class citizens who are ripe for discrimination at the age of five before they even know what the fuck is going on about anything. It just seems so damn Orwellian.

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Aegeri wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    I'd be happier with sampling every child instead of certain ones.

    Note that I am against sampling children at all.

    What's the problem with a DNA database again? I've never understood the objections.

    Eugenics and personal privacy are the two main concerns.

    Eugenics? Please. How the hell is that gonna happen.

    Personal Privacy? The government knows alot of shit about you already. Who cares if they can match your DNA to a sample they test.
    Let's say this dude named Joe murders a guy and they lift half a finger print from the crime scene. His bit of fingerprint looks a lot like mine (which they would have if I was in a database).

    I come up as a possible match and am made a suspect in a muder.

    And then they realize, "Holy shit, this guy doesn't live anywhere near here nor does he have any connection to the murder at all. Also, he was somewhere else at the time.". So no, your not a suspect for very long, unless you ARE connected with the murdered person, in which case you've got one hell of a long shot coincidence going on. You've got to multiply the 1-in-millions odds of a false match with the 1-in-million odds that your ALSO closely connected to this person your a match with.

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Duki wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    I'd be happier with sampling every child instead of certain ones.

    Note that I am against sampling children at all.

    What's the problem with a DNA database again? I've never understood the objections.

    From the article, I gather that it wouldn't be anonymous, because it's attempting to figure out future criminals.

    So it's a pretty terrible infringement of civil liberties. And at age five, I mean it's retarded. Kids are all little assholes anyway. No one should take little Timmy's DNA and brand him potential-criminal or whatever because he kept pulling Jenny's hair in first grade.

    So not only do you have another needless cataloging of private information, you set up a system of essentially second class citizens who are ripe for discrimination at the age of five before they even know what the fuck is going on about anything. It just seems so damn Orwellian.

    Oh yeah, THIS system is dumb as shit. That's why I was quoting the guy who said to sample EVERY kid (ie -everyone). This sort of thing inevitably leads to people freaking out because they don't want their DNA on file for some reason.

  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Ragamuffin Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Not all crimes are pre-meditated, shryke.

    Not to mention that Joe could have killed someone in the city I live in.

    So, the police have no leads other than this little finger print. They will follow up on it, even if it is far-fetched. I could be questioned. It could damage my reputation. It could do a lot of things.

    False-matches are more common than you realize, Shryke.
    Wiki wrote:
    The words "Reliability" and "Validity" have specific meanings to the scientific community. Reliability means successive tests bring the same results. Validity means that the results accurately reflect the external criteria being measured.

    Although experts are often more comfortable relying on their instincts, this reliance does not always translate into superior predictive ability. For example, in the popular Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation, and Verification (ACE-V) paradigm for fingerprint identification, the verification stage, in which a second examiner confirms the assessment of the original examiner, may increase the consistency of the assessments. But while the verification stage has implications for the reliability of latent print comparisons, it does not assure their validity.(pp 12) [4]

    The few tests of validity of forensic fingerprinting have not been supportive of the method:

    Despite the absence of objective standards, scientific validation, and adequate statistical studies, a natural question to ask is how well fingerprint examiners actually perform. Proficiency tests do not validate a procedure per se, but they can provide some insight into error rates. In 1995, the Collaborative Testing Service (CTS) administered a proficiency test that, for the first time, was “designed, assembled, and reviewed” by the International Association for Identification (IAI).The results were disappointing. Four suspect cards with prints of all ten fingers were provided together with seven latents. Of 156 people taking the test, only 68 (44%) correctly classified all seven latents. Overall, the tests contained a total of 48 incorrect identifications. David Grieve, the editor of the Journal of Forensic Identification, describes the reaction of the forensic community to the results of the CTS test as ranging from “shock to disbelief,” and added:

    Errors of this magnitude within a discipline singularly admired and respected for its touted absolute certainty as an identification process have produced chilling and mind- numbing realities. Thirty-four participants, an incredible 22% of those involved, substituted presumed but false certainty for truth. By any measure, this represents a profile of practice that is unacceptable and thus demands positive action by the entire community.

    What is striking about these comments is that they do not come from a critic of the fingerprint community, but from the editor of one of its premier publications.(pp25)

    efsx.jpg
  • AegeriAegeri Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    DNA is harder to get a false match on and DNA-fingerprinting is much more reliable, matching peoples fingerprints is more prone to error because we don't have CSI like computer programs (believe it or not).

  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Ragamuffin Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    shryke wrote: »
    Duki wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    I'd be happier with sampling every child instead of certain ones.

    Note that I am against sampling children at all.

    What's the problem with a DNA database again? I've never understood the objections.

    From the article, I gather that it wouldn't be anonymous, because it's attempting to figure out future criminals.

    So it's a pretty terrible infringement of civil liberties. And at age five, I mean it's retarded. Kids are all little assholes anyway. No one should take little Timmy's DNA and brand him potential-criminal or whatever because he kept pulling Jenny's hair in first grade.

    So not only do you have another needless cataloging of private information, you set up a system of essentially second class citizens who are ripe for discrimination at the age of five before they even know what the fuck is going on about anything. It just seems so damn Orwellian.

    Oh yeah, THIS system is dumb as shit. That's why I was quoting the guy who said to sample EVERY kid (ie -everyone). This sort of thing inevitably leads to people freaking out because they don't want their DNA on file for some reason.

    I said I would be more supportive of sampling everyone instead of certain people. I am against sampling everyone.

    Sampling certain people places them in a second-class citizen-esque role. At the age of 5

    I would rather all people be equal, if the law came to pass. Which I don't want it to. Please read my post next time kthx.

    efsx.jpg
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    Not all crimes are pre-meditated, shryke.

    Not to mention that Joe could have killed someone in the city I live in.

    So, the police have no leads other than this little finger print. They will follow up on it, even if it is far-fetched. I could be questioned. It could damage my reputation. It could do a lot of things.

    False-matches are more common than you realize, Shryke.
    Wiki wrote:
    The words "Reliability" and "Validity" have specific meanings to the scientific community. Reliability means successive tests bring the same results. Validity means that the results accurately reflect the external criteria being measured.

    Although experts are often more comfortable relying on their instincts, this reliance does not always translate into superior predictive ability. For example, in the popular Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation, and Verification (ACE-V) paradigm for fingerprint identification, the verification stage, in which a second examiner confirms the assessment of the original examiner, may increase the consistency of the assessments. But while the verification stage has implications for the reliability of latent print comparisons, it does not assure their validity.(pp 12) [4]

    The few tests of validity of forensic fingerprinting have not been supportive of the method:

    Despite the absence of objective standards, scientific validation, and adequate statistical studies, a natural question to ask is how well fingerprint examiners actually perform. Proficiency tests do not validate a procedure per se, but they can provide some insight into error rates. In 1995, the Collaborative Testing Service (CTS) administered a proficiency test that, for the first time, was “designed, assembled, and reviewed” by the International Association for Identification (IAI).The results were disappointing. Four suspect cards with prints of all ten fingers were provided together with seven latents. Of 156 people taking the test, only 68 (44%) correctly classified all seven latents. Overall, the tests contained a total of 48 incorrect identifications. David Grieve, the editor of the Journal of Forensic Identification, describes the reaction of the forensic community to the results of the CTS test as ranging from “shock to disbelief,” and added:

    Errors of this magnitude within a discipline singularly admired and respected for its touted absolute certainty as an identification process have produced chilling and mind- numbing realities. Thirty-four participants, an incredible 22% of those involved, substituted presumed but false certainty for truth. By any measure, this represents a profile of practice that is unacceptable and thus demands positive action by the entire community.

    What is striking about these comments is that they do not come from a critic of the fingerprint community, but from the editor of one of its premier publications.(pp25)

    1) DNA =/= Fingerprints. Find something on DNA and we'll talk.

    2) They don't just go "Oh, your DNA was on scene, lock him up.". In fact, the majority of the time DNA testing is used as confirmation of already held suspicions. It's usually along the lines of the police going "We think he did it, check this DNA" and then the lab coming back months later going "You were right.".

    3) Again, the odds of the person who gives a false positive match being connected to you are INCREDIBLY small.

  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Ragamuffin Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Look, I am going to just stick to saying that I don't want you to have my DNA. That is my right. If I commit a crime, by all means, take it.

    Until then, leave me the hell out of your DNA banks.

    :tinfoil hat:

    efsx.jpg
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    Look, I am going to just stick to saying that I don't want you to have my Name/Date of Birth/Place of Residence/etc. That is my right. If I commit a crime, by all means, take it.

    Until then, leave me the hell out of your government databases.

    :tinfoil hat:

    /nod

  • DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    The DNA sampling would likely not be done by the government, either. It would probably be contracted out to a private corporation, requiring you (or this case the parents) to sign a long-winded release/waiver that would basically give them the right to do anything they want with the information they gather. Basically, they would be allowing private corporations to own your DNA. I don't trust the government to put enough safeguards on the process to prevent this.

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2008
    shryke wrote: »
    Personal Privacy? The government knows alot of shit about you already. Who cares if they can match your DNA to a sample they test

    I do.

    And since in our society it is incumbent on you to prove why anyone has the right to take that information, rather than incumbent on me to prove why it should remain private, you can probably fuck off.

    (Also your argument is plain moronic. Spies find out some information already, why don't we just make it all public! A lot of people die from cancer, why not just let them all die & save treatment resources! Damn, I dropped an egg, why not just throw the whole carton on the floor!)

  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Ragamuffin Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Not Sarastro, join me and my tinfoil hat party.

    efsx.jpg
  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2008
    Oh, and if you want some more detailed reasoning for why these massive government database projects are a bad idea, see this excellent oped on ID cards - written by a professor specialising in IT systems:
    Ian Angell wrote:
    The ID card project is still on track - more or less. Jacqui Smith is just the latest in a long line of Home Office ministers to sell us the benefits of ID cards, while casually informing us of the latest rise in costs or slippage in its implementation schedule. Ms Smith is also yet another Home Secretary who subscribes to the “pixie dust” school of technology: computation is a magic substance to be sprinkled over problems, that, hey presto, then vanish. Little wonder that Britain has an appalling record in government IT projects.

    The ID project is one of the biggest computer systems envisaged - far more complex than the failing NHS system. And it's another disaster waiting to happen. Still the politicians naively claim there will be no problems: it will be totally secure because of biometrics. Apparently iris scans, fingerprints, face-recognition software will all work perfectly, be amazingly cheap to implement - and all foolproof. It must be true, as they've been told this by those selling the technology. Baroness Anelay of St Johns, with a group of parliamentarians, was once given a demonstration of a facial recognition system. It failed; indeed the system subsequently crashed, twice. The reason? The baroness was told her face was “too bland”.

    The only property that all systems have in common is that they fail. And the bigger the system - 60 million entries on a compulsory ID card database - the greater the opportunity of failure. Systems are much like any life form: they degrade over time, they entropy. In the case of databases, the pick up errors and then build data error upon error. The DVLA in Swansea in 2006, for instance, admitted that a third of entries contained at least one error, and that the proportion was getting worse.

    We've all had encounters with computer systems that get it wrong. Barclays once refused one of my transactions because they said I was accessing an account owned by a teenage girl named Ian Angell, who lived at my address and was a professor at LSE. I still had to take a morning off work to explain that a 14-year-old couldn't own an account that, according to their own records, had been open for 35 years.
    Background

    And however scrupulous the managers might be, errors leak and take on a life of their own. They are sampled by other databases, known as “farming”: errors, even when corrected in the original database, live on elsewhere.

    But the ID project will be different, we are told. According to the rhetoric, an ID card, one central point of reference, will be so much more efficient and beneficial than you having to prove your identity daily, by producing driving licences, gas bills and so on. Its proponents fail to see that if any of these documents is erroneous, then we don't use the one with, say, a mistake in the address to prove our identity. With the ID card, we won't have the choice. Even if the card is not compulsory, all financial systems will converge on it, and anyone without a card faces great cost and inconvenience. Just like Oyster cards on the London Underground, you're not forced, but it's so much more expensive and tiresome without one.

    However, the ID card itself isn't the real problem: it's the ID register. There, each entry will eventually take on a legal status. In time, all other proofs of identity will refer back to the one entry. If the register is wrong - and remember fallible human hands will at some stage have to handle your personal information - then all other databases will be wrong too. Given the propensity of officialdom to trust the details on their computer screen, rather than the person in front of them, you will have to conform to your entry in the register - or become a non-person.

    In effect, your identity won't reside in the living flesh and blood of you, but in the database. You will be separated from your identity; you will no longer own it. All your property and money will de facto belong to the database entry. You only have access to your property with the permission of the database. Paradoxically, you only agreed to register to protect yourself from “identity theft”, and instead you find yourself victim of the ultimate identity theft - the total loss of control over your identity.

    Errors won't just happen by accident. It's possible to imagine that workers on the ID database will be corrupted, threatened or blackmailed into creating perfectly legal ID cards for international terrorists and criminals. Then the ID card, far from eliminating problems, will be a one-stop shop for identity fraud; foreign terrorists, illegal immigrants will be waived past all immigration checks.

    At a recent Ditchley Park conference on combating organised crime, a persistent warning from the law enforcement authorities was that criminal gangs had placed “sleepers” in financial sector companies, and they were just waiting for the one big hit. The perpetrators of 80 per cent of all computer security lapses are not hackers, but employees. Cryptographic systems don't help if the criminal has been given the keys to the kingdom. Why should the ID centre be immune, especially when there will be nearly 300 government departments logging in. Furthermore, the register will be the No 1 target for every hacker on the planet: the Olympic Games of hacking.

    So why is the Goverment so keen to force ID cards on us? Is it because ministers are control freaks who, having read 1984, only saw it as a wishlist. John Lennon may have been right: “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs.” More likely, ministers have been dazzled by the myth of the perfectibility of computers.

    Ian Angell is Professor of Information Systems at the London School of Economics

    PS Spectre, already there, except there are a multitude of practical arguments about why these things are a bad idea, as the above, so self-characterising as :tinfoil hat: plain isn't necessary - it should really be the people proposing these grand schemes who get the hat, preferably conical and with a big D printed on.

  • Crimson KingCrimson King wolves cull themselves, man. what other creature could? and is the race of man not more predacious yet?Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Oh, and if you want some more detailed reasoning for why these massive government database projects are a bad idea, see this excellent oped on ID cards - written by a professor specialising in IT systems:

    While interesting, the only part of this article which is relevant to the discussion at hand is the part about how big government databases are often error-riddled. Problem with a national database of IDs are going to be far more influential then problems with an national database of genetic material, assuming the later is used solely for identifying criminals and not for general identification purposes. The worst that could happen with a database of genetic material is that you could be wrongly suspected of a crime you didn't commit. Not saying that that's not a bad thing - however, I agree with shryke that it's unlikely have a serious impact on your life, unless you get hugely unlucky. I'd want to see some indications of the level of error we'd be looking at and the chances of a significant mismatch before I made a final decision

    Also, I've never really understood why people are so desperate to prevent the government from having their DNA. You don't commit any crimes, and it'll never be a problem. You do commit crimes, and you'll get caught, and how is that a problem? As long as they don't turn into a police state and they keep it private - though admittedly I'm not sure how well they do the latter - they can have my DNA.

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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited March 2008

    Also, I've never really understood why people are so desperate to prevent the government from having their DNA. You don't commit any crimes, and it'll never be a problem. You do commit crimes, and you'll get caught, and how is that a problem?

    I could reply with my own text here, but I'm really not going to bother.

    http://www.wired.com/politics/security/commentary/securitymatters/2006/05/70886

    And zillions of other reasons.
    Ex-post-facto laws, abuse, future identity theft ETC.
    I do no care if people are stupid enough not to value their own privacy(we see raging examples of "sharing idiots" from people my age and younger).
    I do value what's mine and personal information is above personal possessions as far as I'm concerned.
    What is the problem with having to explicitly agree to DNA sampling? If you really don't care, be my guest, sign the waiver. I do, I'd like not to be in the database, please.
    "Nothing to hide" would never be a valid argument.

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2008
    Also, I've never really understood why people are so desperate to prevent the government from having their DNA. You don't commit any crimes, and it'll never be a problem.

    See above:
    While interesting, the only part of this article which is relevant to the discussion at hand is the part about how big government databases are often error-riddled.

    That is a massive problem. Time and time again, government institutions and large databases like this demonstrate bad security and mishandling. When the stakes are high enough for you to be convicted of a crime based on reliance of such evidence, I would call that 'a problem'.

    Like the government, you are taking a theoretical position that if DNA databases & criminal use worked perfectly they would be great and there would be no problem. But they don't work perfectly, and there will be problems. And since the justice system is quite rightly focused on habeus corpus and safeguards against injustice, rather than letting the odd innocent person slip through, instituting a system where it is acknowledged that miscarriages of justice are going to be part of the process with little to no safeguards against them, is against the most basic principles of justice.

    Once again, simply complaining "I don't understand why it's a problem for you" is not enough. It is a problem, and the burden of evidence is on you to prove why it is necessary.

  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    The worst that could happen with a database of genetic material is that you could be wrongly suspected of a crime you didn't commit. Not saying that that's not a bad thing - however, I agree with shryke that it's unlikely have a serious impact on your life, unless you get hugely unlucky.
    While I'll be fucked if I can remember what the title of it was, I watched a show on Discovery years ago about people who've had incorrect informations such as "deceased", "criminal" or "suspected terrorist" tacked onto some governmental database or another. The consequences are anything but minor, these people had their lives fucked over for years before they even realized why they were completely incapable of getting/holding a job, and even after finding out why (how the hell do you even find that shit out?) most of them were unable to actually correct the problem. As the ultimate slap in the face, one person was given an official statement that effectively said "this person is NOT a terrorist", because they were unable to simply correct the problem at its core. They had to carry it around with them as proof.

    So, yeah, you're greatly underestimating just how huge of a problem this "unlucky" event can have on a person's life. The article's conclusion may be :tinfoil:, but the problems mentioned are real.

  • Crimson KingCrimson King wolves cull themselves, man. what other creature could? and is the race of man not more predacious yet?Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Also, I've never really understood why people are so desperate to prevent the government from having their DNA. You don't commit any crimes, and it'll never be a problem.

    See above:
    While interesting, the only part of this article which is relevant to the discussion at hand is the part about how big government databases are often error-riddled.

    That is a massive problem. Time and time again, government institutions and large databases like this demonstrate bad security and mishandling. When the stakes are high enough for you to be convicted of a crime based on reliance of such evidence, I would call that 'a problem'.

    Like the government, you are taking a theoretical position that if DNA databases & criminal use worked perfectly they would be great and there would be no problem. But they don't work perfectly, and there will be problems. And since the justice system is quite rightly focused on habeus corpus and safeguards against injustice, rather than letting the odd innocent person slip through, instituting a system where it is acknowledged that miscarriages of justice are going to be part of the process with little to no safeguards against them, is against the most basic principles of justice.

    Once again, simply complaining "I don't understand why it's a problem for you" is not enough. It is a problem, and the burden of evidence is on you to prove why it is necessary.

    I don't think we have sufficient data to determine how often people would be wrongfully convicted due to database errors, especially when considering the mitigating factors that shryke brought up. If everyone's data is on file, and it is acknowledged that the database is occasionally faulty, then you should never be convicted on DNA evidence alone. You'd also have to be linked to the crime in some other way to be convicted, and, though I don't have the data to prove it, I suspect that's an extremely implausible coincidence. This is what I would consider to be a safeguard against miscarriages of justice. Now, even with such a system, a few people would slip through the cracks and be wrongfully convicted. This is unfortunate, but it happens in every justice system, and the advantages in crime solving and murder prevention would, likely be worth the loss.

    As to the latter part, if it's a problem for you, you have the responsibility to provide evidence as to why, as you're the one asserting a positive. You have provided some evidence, and I think I've effectively refuted that, though you're likely to disagree. I'm going to read the article zeeny posted now and see what I think.

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  • Crimson KingCrimson King wolves cull themselves, man. what other creature could? and is the race of man not more predacious yet?Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Glal wrote: »
    The worst that could happen with a database of genetic material is that you could be wrongly suspected of a crime you didn't commit. Not saying that that's not a bad thing - however, I agree with shryke that it's unlikely have a serious impact on your life, unless you get hugely unlucky.
    While I'll be fucked if I can remember what the title of it was, I watched a show on Discovery years ago about people who've had incorrect informations such as "deceased", "criminal" or "suspected terrorist" tacked onto some governmental database or another. The consequences are anything but minor, these people had their lives fucked over for years before they even realized why they were completely incapable of getting/holding a job, and even after finding out why (how the hell do you even find that shit out?) most of them were unable to actually correct the problem. As the ultimate slap in the face, one person was given an official statement that effectively said "this person is NOT a terrorist", because they were unable to simply correct the problem at its core. They had to carry it around with them as proof.

    So, yeah, you're greatly underestimating just how huge of a problem this "unlucky" event can have on a person's life. The article's conclusion may be :tinfoil:, but the problems mentioned are real.

    Again, difference between genetic code and identity database. "deceased" or "criminal" are tags that apply to an ID, which is used for all sorts of things. Your DNA should be used for the sole purpose of finding a match for a criminal. That's the only circumstance in which a mistake will have an effect, and I've covered that above.

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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Glal wrote: »
    The worst that could happen with a database of genetic material is that you could be wrongly suspected of a crime you didn't commit. Not saying that that's not a bad thing - however, I agree with shryke that it's unlikely have a serious impact on your life, unless you get hugely unlucky.
    While I'll be fucked if I can remember what the title of it was, I watched a show on Discovery years ago about people who've had incorrect informations such as "deceased", "criminal" or "suspected terrorist" tacked onto some governmental database or another. The consequences are anything but minor, these people had their lives fucked over for years before they even realized why they were completely incapable of getting/holding a job, and even after finding out why (how the hell do you even find that shit out?) most of them were unable to actually correct the problem. As the ultimate slap in the face, one person was given an official statement that effectively said "this person is NOT a terrorist", because they were unable to simply correct the problem at its core. They had to carry it around with them as proof.

    So, yeah, you're greatly underestimating just how huge of a problem this "unlucky" event can have on a person's life. The article's conclusion may be :tinfoil:, but the problems mentioned are real.

    Again, difference between genetic code and identity database. "deceased" or "criminal" are tags that apply to an ID, which is used for all sorts of things. Your DNA should be used for the sole purpose of finding a match for a criminal. That's the only circumstance in which a mistake will have an effect, and I've covered that above.

    You've already assumed that if the DNA matches, the person is a criminal. The omnipotence of DNA evidence in the eye of the people is pretty much a reason enough for me NOT to have such a database, and I'm not even talking about false positives(DNA matching is very solid, in the end).
    I'm talking about serious possibilities of abuse in a not-so-distant future.
    Also, the temptation to use such a database for personal identification sooner or later would be too big to resist.
    Read Schneier's article. It's decent.

  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    You mean the way social security numbers should just be used for taxation purposes?

  • Not SarastroNot Sarastro __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2008
    If everyone's data is on file, and it is acknowledged that the database is occasionally faulty, then you should never be convicted on DNA evidence alone.

    1. Should never be convicted on DNA evidence alone. Today, many people are already convicted on 99.9% DNA evidence, as shown by resurrected cases from decades ago which gain convictions.

    2. It is acknowledged by sensible people that databases are occasionally faulty. It is not acknowledged by databases that databases are occasionally faulty. As that article points out, a civil servant at a computer, given the choice between: person is lying or database is lying : will tend to go with option A.

    3. The politicians who propose these schemes are resolutely not sensible people. They constantly argue for these databases on the grounds that they are essentially infallible, will not go wrong, etc etc.

    So there is no reason to think that either it will be acknowledged that the database is occasionally faulty, or that people will not be convicted on DNA evidence alone. Fail.
    Glal wrote: »
    You mean the way social security numbers should just be used for taxation purposes?

  • polajumpolajum Registered User
    edited March 2008
    Glal wrote: »
    The worst that could happen with a database of genetic material is that you could be wrongly suspected of a crime you didn't commit. Not saying that that's not a bad thing - however, I agree with shryke that it's unlikely have a serious impact on your life, unless you get hugely unlucky.
    While I'll be fucked if I can remember what the title of it was, I watched a show on Discovery years ago about people who've had incorrect informations such as "deceased", "criminal" or "suspected terrorist" tacked onto some governmental database or another. The consequences are anything but minor, these people had their lives fucked over for years before they even realized why they were completely incapable of getting/holding a job, and even after finding out why (how the hell do you even find that shit out?) most of them were unable to actually correct the problem. As the ultimate slap in the face, one person was given an official statement that effectively said "this person is NOT a terrorist", because they were unable to simply correct the problem at its core. They had to carry it around with them as proof.

    So, yeah, you're greatly underestimating just how huge of a problem this "unlucky" event can have on a person's life. The article's conclusion may be :tinfoil:, but the problems mentioned are real.

    Again, difference between genetic code and identity database. "deceased" or "criminal" are tags that apply to an ID, which is used for all sorts of things. Your DNA should be used for the sole purpose of finding a match for a criminal. That's the only circumstance in which a mistake will have an effect, and I've covered that above.

    Everything else aside, how precisely do you propose to guarantee that DNA will be used only for finding a match for a criminal-not just now, but for the rest of my life?

    The data will be released to the wrong people. It will be used for purposes other than what it was originally intended. That's how governments work in the real world, at least from what I've seen.

  • Crimson KingCrimson King wolves cull themselves, man. what other creature could? and is the race of man not more predacious yet?Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    zeeny wrote: »

    You've already assumed that if the DNA matches, the person is a criminal. The omnipotence of DNA evidence in the eye of the people is pretty much a reason enough for me NOT to have such a database, and I'm not even talking about false positives(DNA matching is very solid, in the end).

    I have never assumed that, and don't think the general public would either. See above post.
    zeeny wrote: »
    I'm talking about serious possibilities of abuse in a not-so-distant future.
    Can you elaborate as to what those possibilities are?
    zeeny wrote: »
    Also, the temptation to use such a database for personal identification sooner or later would be too big to resist.

    That's a reasonable point, but I think as long as the people are well aware that the database is fallible, this temptation could be resisted. Who wants to use a faulty database for personal ID?
    zeeny wrote: »
    Read Schneier's article. It's decent.
    It is, but I think the points it make are specific to observation of actions - surveillance, wiretapping and the like - and not really relevant to DNA records.
    Glal wrote:
    You mean the way social security numbers should just be used for taxation purposes?

    Fair enough. What else can you reasonably use DNA for? Of course, it's true that even if there's not a lot that can be done with it now, there's always the possibility of what we might discover in the future.

    edit; making sure that people realise this is an honest question, not some rhetorical bullshit.

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  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited March 2008
    Why, to recreate Hitler, duh.

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