Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ireland plans for DNA database advancing

Thanks to TJ McIntyre for alerting me via EDRI-gram to the latest Irish government plans to establish a DNA database.  Innocent people's DNA details are to be held for 3 years.
"The Irish Government has announced that it will publish legislation this week to set up a national DNA database. The Bill follows a 2005 Report of the Law Reform Commission on Establishment of a DNA Database but was delayed by the European Court of Human Rights action in S and Marper vs. the United Kingdom and has since been revised in light of that case.
The legislation proposes to allow Gardaí (Police) to forcibly take samples (such as hair, saliva, nail clippings or blood) from those suspected of committing a criminal offence carrying a possible sentence of five years imprisonment or more. Samples will be stored indefinitely where suspects are convicted; where persons are acquitted or released without charge they will still be retained for a three year period. 4.1 million euros has been allocated for the start-up costs associated with the database in 2010.
In 2007, the Irish Human Rights Commission was critical of a previous draft of the legislation. Until the full Bill is published it is unclear to what extent it will address these concerns.
In a separate development, it has emerged that a Dublin children's hospital has been holding DNA records of almost every person born in Ireland since 1984 without consent. The Temple Street Children's Hospital has acted as a national centre for "heel prick tests" which involve the taking of a blood sample from each newborn child and using that sample to screen for disease. However, the hospital does not destroy those samples when screening is complete but instead retains those samples indefinitely, linked to the individual. There are approximately 1.54 million samples held on this database, which would include the overwhelming majority of Irish people aged 25 or younger. The hospital is currently under investigation by the Data Protection Commissioner who may order the destruction of these samples.
Law Reform Commission, Report on the Establishment of a DNA Database (11.2005)
Irish Human Rights Commission, Safeguards in DNA Database Scheme of Bill 'Inadequate' (8.08.2007)
Connolly, Suspects forced to give DNA samples under new legislation (20.12.2009)
Connolly, New DNA Bill faces opposition (20.12.2009)
Dáil debates (10.12.2009)
Tighe, Hospital keeps secret DNA file (27.12.2009)
Tighe, Records stolen from hospital that held secret DNA database (10.01.2010)
(Contribution by TJ McIntyre - EDRi-member Digital Rights Ireland)"

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