Thursday, December 4, 2008

Britain's DNA Highway

There is a peculiar kind of highwayman in Britain — the run-of-the-mill cop. In Britain, upon arrest, a person is instantly swabbed for a DNA sample. The British practice has been to keep all such samples. Those eventually released, eventually not charged, eventually found not guilty, nevertheless can count on the DNA remaining in the system.

Currently, the UK has some 4.6 million DNA samples on file. That is, more than one in every fifteen Britons has DNA on file. Moreover, 860,000 of those 4.6 million have no criminal record at all.

This in country which is also distinguished for having the most extensive video surveillance system in the world and whose labor government has sought to mandate an national ID card for every citizen.

So bad as the US is on many counts, Britain may well come nearer to being a police state.

Now the European court of human rights has intervened, The court, affirming a fundamental human right of privacy, criticized “the blanket and indiscriminate nature” of the British practice.

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