UK Liberty

Put toddlers on DNA database

Posted in database state, DNA database, law and order, state-citizen relationship by ukliberty on March 16, 2008

Infant school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become civil liberties infringers in later life, according to Britain’s most annoyed civil liberties supporter.

John Doe, editor of the UK Liberty blog said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential civil liberties infringers, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future infringing traits in children as young as two.

‘If we have a primary means of identifying people before they infringe, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,’ said Doe. ‘You could argue the younger the better. Civil liberties experts say some people will grow out of infringements; others won’t. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society, and then send them where they can infringe to their hearts content – say, Iran, Saudi Arabia or North Korea.’

Doe admitted that the deeply controversial suggestion raised issues of parental consent, potential stigmatisation and the role of teachers in identifying future infringers, but said society needed an open, mature discussion on how best to tackle civil liberties infringements before they take place. There are currently 4.5 million genetic samples on the UK database – the largest in Europe – but experts believe more are required to reduce infringements further. ‘The number of proposed infringements says we are not sampling enough of the right people,’ Doe said. However, he said his proposal is currently prohibited by pandering to public opinion and scaremongering about terrorism, paedophiles and criminals.

Police and MPs condemned his comments last night by likening them to an excerpt from a ‘science fiction novel’. The Labour party warned that it was a step backwards from a ‘police state’.

Doe’s call for the government to consider options such as placing infant school children who have been setting up their own identity registers is supported by elements of civil liberties theory. A well-established pattern of infringing involves relatively minor proposals escalating to more absurd ones. Senior civil liberties experts are understood to be confident that techniques are able to identify future infringers.

Doe believes that measures to identify infringers early would save the economy huge sums – simply setting up the National Identity Register alone will cost £5.6bn – and significantly reduce the number of infringements committed.

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