Reclaim your DNA from the UK database

By EDRi · May 6, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Fordern Sie Ihre DNA aus der britischen Datenbank ein! |]

Macedonian: [Акција за повлекување на профили од британската ДНК база на податоци |,mk/]

A coallition of Human rights groups in UK has launched “Reclaim your DNA”
website that helps innocent people contact the police to seek destruction of
their DNA and database records. Five months after the European Court of
Human Rights decision in the case Marper vs UK, no bill has been introduced
in the Parliament to deal with this situation. However, in a recent
statement, the UK home secretary Jacqui Smith said that the plans for
destruction of the DNA profiles of the innocent people stored by the Police
would be published soon.

The website “Reclaim your DNA” was launched on 27 April 2009 by several
human rights groups in UK: GeneWatch UK, NO2ID, Black Mental Health UK, ARCH
and EDRi-member Open Rights Group.

Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK, said: “If Scotland can remove
innocent people from the DNA database, why can’t this happen everywhere?
It’s time for people in the rest of Britain to demand their rights”.
GeneWatch has already warned that the health and drug companies will want
access to the samples in order to create profiles to predict who is
genetically susceptible to different illnesses and diseases.

The website explains the procedure of deleting the DNA from the National DNA
Database in case you haven’t been convicted. It is estimated that at least
800 000 people are in this situation. The coalition presents the arguments
for such an action: “Your computer record on the
National DNA database can be used to trace you or your relatives. A sample
of your DNA, containing your personal genetic information, will also be
stored by one of the commercial laboratories that do work for the police.
Your DNA sample contains some private information about your health.”

“We have human rights: we need to exercise them if we want to successfully
defend them. The digital age means data is constantly easier to collect,
store, and analyse, so when government goes too far, it is vital citizens
act to defend their right to privacy” points Jim Killock, Executive Director
of Open Rights Group making reference also to the European Court of Human
Rights decision that considered it is illegal for the government to keep all
this personal information belonging to innocent people.

The UK government stalled for nearly 5 months and initial plans seamed to
try not to implement directly the judgement. But a statement from the UK
home secretary Jacqui Smith insisted on 3 May 2009 that the plans would be
presented this week and will also include the destruction of all physical
samples, such as mouth swabs, hair and blood. It is estimated that a
consultation paper would be released by the UK government to detail all the
actions to deal with the destruction of the DNA profiles of the innocent

But the civil rights groups remain cautious on the decision. Simon Davies
from Privacy International: “The DNA database is already too big.We would
argue that the samples of anyone convicted of even minor offences should be

Reclaim your DNA !

The UK Police National DNA Database

GeneWatch PR: Innocent urged to reclaim their DNA (27.04.2009)[cid]=563486&als[itemid]=564430

Step-by-step guide to reclaim your DNA (27.04.2009)

Jacqui Smith says DNA database profiles of 800,000 innocent people will be
axed (3.05.2009)

EDRi-gram:ECHR decided against the UK DNA Database (17.12.2009)