I always end up scrabbling around for actual numbers whenever talking about the National DNA Database so, in light of , I’m compiling a summary:

  • Number of records: 4 million (; 05/09/07) or 3,785,571 at 31/03/06 ( p29; 05/09/07)
  • Percentage of population: 5-6%, higher than any other country (Derived from above; 05/09/07). The official figure is 5.2% (; 05/09/07)
  • Percentage of US population on their DNA database: 0.5% (; 05/09/07)
  • Age: 12 Years (; 05/09/07)
  • Monthly growth: 30,000 (; 05/09/07)
  • Number profiles of unconvicted 10-17 year olds: 24,000 (; 05/09/07)
  • Official stance on children on the database: Under 18s make up 23% of all arrests, and so a comparative proportion of profiles is to be expected. There are no legal powers to take a DNA sample from anyone under ten without the consent of a parent or legal guardian. (Source; 05/09/07)
  • Number of crimes solved per year using DNA database: 20,000 (; 05/09/07). The official figure is 45,000 crimes in 2005 & 2006 (; 05/09/07)
  • DNA profiles deleted in 2005: 21,661 (; 20/06/07).
  • DNA profiles deleted in 2006: 8,860 (; 20/06/07)
  • Cost: £300 million over last five years (; 05/09/07)
  • Gender split: 80.26% Men, 18.72% Women and 1.02% Unknown ( p32; 05/09/07)
  • Percentage of database by ethnicity (men): 76% White European, 9% Unknown (41% of which is collected in Scotland which does not track this data), 7% Afro-Caribbean, 5% Asian, 2% Dark-skinned European, 1% Arab ( p34; 05/09/07)
  • Percentage of population with a DNA record: 40% of Black population has DNA record, 13% of Asian population and 9% of White population, and (; 05/09/07)
  • Number of replicated profiles: 646,890 or 16% (Source; 03/12/07)

I’m sure there’ll be more as I find them…

Updated 4/12/07: Replicated profiles

Schools in fingerprinting row

Tens of thousands of children are being fingerprinted in school – often without the consent of their parents, a human rights group has complained. Prints are taken for a library lending system which the makers say makes lending more efficient and less vulnerable to abuse.

Manufacturers MLS’s technology director Stephen Phillips said:] “People who have nothing to hide – why would they worry?”

[The] government’s information commissioner does not believe the system is breaking any laws or conventions. Assistant to the commissioner, Phil Boyd said: “It is not in breach of the data protection act and it does not contravene the human rights act.”

So there you go, children being fingerprinted to protect library books and that wonderful quote of all quotes “You don’t have anything to worry about if you’ve nothing to hide” that still gets trotted out whenever anybody raises any concerns of any kind. How about this: If I’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got no business infringing my privacy.


I fear I’m beginning to sound like a broken record on ID Cards, but what can you do…

It looks like the Lords have accepted the latest compromise and the .

I was skimming through the . Basically, the report is where the Home Affairs Committee consider the Government’s proposals for an identity cards scheme and the draft Identity Cards Bill and make their comments.

Here are some choice excerpts:

The structure of the database, and how to set it up and manage it, are among the most important choices the Government has to make. We are greatly concerned that the Government’s procurement process appears to be taking these key decisions without any external reference or technical assessment, or broader public debate. We recommend the Government publishes details of consultations with any external bodies and also any technical assessments that have been undertaken.

The Finance and Leasing Association took the view that “the database should be available for all legitimate users of information to access either directly or indirectly to facilitate the uses of the card which an individual may make”.

The draft Bill effectively establishes a national fingerprint register covering 80% of the economically active population within five years of the scheme’s implementation, and 100% once the compulsory stage has been reached. It is a moot point whether Parliament would currently sanction the establishment of a comprehensive fingerprint register solely for crime fighting purposes: to date only the limited extension of finger-printing and DNA sampling for those arrested has been sanctioned. Nonetheless the Minister of State confirmed the Government’s intention to use the National Identity Register as a national fingerprint register to identify individuals.

Irrespective of the Government’s intentions, we can also expect media and public pressure to use the fingerprint register ever more extensively. The establishment of a national fingerprint register has never been a stated aim of the identity card system. Whatever the merits of such a development—and there has been no debate as to whether an identification through this means would be sufficient evidence to secure a conviction for example—we believe its use should be subject to proper Parliamentary scrutiny and decision and not developed through executive action.

It is also likely that that facial recognition technology will develop to the point where an individual captured on a CCTV camera could potentially be identified from the National Identity Register. Again, we doubt whether the pressure to use the system in this way could be resisted forever by future governments.

The British Medical Association did not want medical information recorded on identity cards, since they “want the public to be reassured that other people who had access to their identity card were not able to access personal health information” and because the information would not be updated sufficiently frequently. For the same reasons they argued in favour of keeping the National Identity Register separate from the planned national electronic health record. We agree with the BMA: it would not be either useful or appropriate to keep medical details on the Register. But it would be sensible for the identity card to be the mechanism that enables individuals to access their NHS records.

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: “They [Oyster cards] are used by people travelling on London’s transport system and according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the Police are getting interested in the Oyster database.
Coppers have discovered that by tapping the database they can track anyone’s movements on public transport.”

No, no, don’t worry. I’m not about to bleat on about another loss of civil liberties. At the end of the day, it’s not mandatory to register your personal details when applying for an Oyster card and out of five million Oyster card users, 65 requests for information per month is nothing really. The TfL has been denying frivolous requests (though it doesn’t state how many that is) to ensure that their system is not abused.

Could it still be abused? Of course, if the TfL is forced to open up their database entirely and if personal details become mandatory, but I don’t see that happening, realistically. And, to be honest, I’d rather have the convenience and the discount of my Oyster card, thank you very much!

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: “The internet search engine Google is resisting efforts by the US Department of Justice to force it to hand over data about what people are looking for. “

Why does the DoJ want to peruse the Google databases? Do they want to track the illegal activities of a terrorist suspect? Crack a paedophile ring?

No, they’re just looking to justify some of their anti-porn legislation that has been blocked by the Supreme Court because of legal challenges over how it is enforced.

The DoJ will probably win, but it’s still encouraging that Google is less than willing to breach the civil liberties of it’s users. As opposed to Yahoo, who were so ready to allow pro-democracy protestors to be fed to the lions (or should that be dragons?) in China to protect their business interests. (That news article )

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Is your printer spying on you?: “Researchers hired by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) say they were able to break a code hidden in tiny tracking dots that some colour laser printers secrete in every document they print.
The U.S. Secret Service admits it struck a deal with some laser printer manufacturers to add tracking information to the printed matter. The spooks say it’s a means of identifying counterfeiters. “

Interesting. So the Secret Service says the codes are only used for counterfeiting cases, but basically are readable by all. I doubt very much that they kept this crime-fighting innovation to themselves.

Now, personally I’m not worried about this. I really doubt any of my laser-printed output will ever be of any interest to security services (although it’d make a useful tool in some copyright disputes). But I wonder about the results of the EFF’s research, as it now somewhat robs security services from the benefits of these codes in investigations. All computer literate criminals will now probably all switch over to inkjets which don’t have a high enough resolution for the microdot technology to work.