Europe court rules UK DNA database violates privacy rights

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights [official website] unanimously ruled [judgment text] Thursday that the British practice of keeping the fingerprints and DNA profiles of people arrested but not convicted of crimes was against privacy rights and should not continue. The suit was originally brought by UK nationals Michael Marper and a juvenile named as "S," both of whom were arrested for crimes in 2001 and never convicted. When they later requested that their DNA and fingerprint profile be destroyed they were turned down. Their appeal was dismissed [judgment text] in 2004 by the UK's highest court, the House of Lords. The ECHR held that the practice of retaining the material violated [press release] Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) [text], which requires respect for private and family life. The court awarded the applicants €42,000, less €2,613.07 already paid in legal aid. The UK cannot appeal the ruling, and they were given a deadline [AP report] of March to plan a new practice for future DNA collection and to propose a plan for destroying the existing 4.5 million sample database [official website]. UK leaders can agree to destroy the entire database, or make a case for keeping certain individual samples.

In November, the House of Lords ruled that the DNA database rules needed to be amended [The Register report] to allow those not convicted to have their profiles deleted. That decision, along with the human rights court ruling, come just months after a proponent of the database called for it to be expanded [JURIST report] to include all citizens and visitors of the country. The Home Office has denied [JURIST report] any plans to create such a database.

 

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