Absence of Tradeoff   1 comment

From UK’s Telegraph:

Stephen House, Chief Constable of Strathclyde, said that storing the genetic profiles of every man, woman and child would help catch more criminals.

Whoo, lord:

Would it deter people? That’s less certain, but we would detect more crime.

No, you wouldn’t.  You’d detect as much crime as you detect now.  You might have an easier time establishing who was at a crime scene, but that’s not “detecting more crime”.

One tradeoff missing from Constable House’s analysis:

Human rights lawyer John Scott said yesterday that the plan would “disturb the balance between the state and the individual”.

He added: “At a time when people are calling for the English system to be closer to our own, we shouldn’t be going in the opposite direction.

“We could get a situation where outside bodies like insurance firms manage to get hold of DNA from innocent people and use it for their own purposes.”

Aside from the intentional misuse factor, there is a horrible accidental misuse problem.  If you put 300 million records in a single storage medium, the odds of your data being absolutely correctly correlated
are… poor.  Data entry clerks transpose numbers, accidentally swap vials.  Bar code readers can mis-scan entries.  Certainly, a 1 in 10 million error rate sounds pretty good, right?  Until you’re one of the 30 errors, that is.

Can you imagine the injustice of being accidentally mis-identified as a serial rapist and murder by a DNA test?  You could never shake that, some people would always believe that you got out on a technicality.

And yes, this database would be cracked.  How could it not be?  The information in it would be of incalculable value.  You want to know who gave you up for adoption, even though they did it under a court seal?  You’ll find out.  You want to know if your daughter’s boyfriend has a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism?  You can find out.

Posted August 6, 2008 by padraic2112 in politics, security

One response to “Absence of Tradeoff

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  1. Pingback: Freaky-o-nomics Explains Probability « Pat’s Daily Grind

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