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The government launches the DNA database

The government launches the DNA database

The DNA database will take place. The government promised this yesterday, inserting the bill for its establishment in the so-called Security Package, a move that is not surprising given the many yeses won by the project in recent weeks.

The genetic database , unlike what happens in other countries such as the United Kingdom, it will be used exclusively for the analysis of only “non-coded segments of the human genome, ie those from which no information on the characteristics of the analyzed subject can be inferred, such as for example the diseases”. In any case, the purpose of the database, that is to assist the investigation activities, places significant limitations on the use of the information it will contain.

Between subjects to whom the withdrawal will be made there are detainees, people in custody (in this case only after the magistrate gives the green light) and those convicted of “non-culpable” crimes. In essence, the taking of DNA samples will not concern the vast majority of Italians.

Other guarantees provided by the bill include a limited access to data , which will be possible only for staff, whose access to the system will be recorded. Abuse by an official can be punished with imprisonment from 1 to 3 years.

But the modalities are also decisive deletion of data . This will happen in any case if a defendant is acquitted with a final sentence and because “the fact does not exist”, in any case in which the withdrawal has not followed the guarantee procedures that will be established, after 40 years from the withdrawal (a term “deemed congruous to overcome, on the basis of experience, the recidivism period “). The DNA samples, on the other hand, will be destroyed after a maximum of 20 years.

On the front of the data security , one of the great concerns of the experts, it was decided to keep separate the place where the collection and comparison of DNA profiles takes place, i.e. the actual database, and the place where biological samples and profiles are extracted and stored, i.e. the Central Laboratory. This, argues the Government, “avoided a promiscuity that could prove harmful to the genuineness of the data collected and analyzed”.

But is such a database really needed? According to the reasons given by the Government for its establishment, the Database can prove to be decisive in identifying perpetrators and facilitating collaboration between the various police forces, also from an anti-terrorism perspective (as required by the Prum Treaty). In reality, as Stefano Rodotà recently explained, a collection of genetic data already happens for investigative purposes, but outside of any specific regulation. The hope, therefore, is that a dedicated standard, which places the Privacy Guarantor and the the National Committee for Biosafety and Biotechnologies can avoid those “situations of deprivation of rights” feared by Rodotà himself.

What is not addressed by the bill, also because it is obviously a matter of speculation, is the impact of the availability of genetic profiles on the preparation of the investigators and on the methods of investigation. In fact, the fear of security experts has always been that biometric tools tend to compress procedures and timing of investigations in favor of the “easy test” which can be made up of only apparently incontrovertible data such as genetic ones.