Balancing privacy and security

DNA as seen during gel electrophoresis (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

South Africa has a serious problem with crime and DNA profiling offers a real chance to do something about it by providing accurate and reliable evidence. There is currently a push to bring in a legal framework to deal with this issue and, as I’ve stated previously, I support the DNA Bill and signed the petition. However, it’s important not to lose sight that these advances come at a trade-off between security and privacy. The DNA Project itself has noted opinions on both side of the spectrum; from a piece from the US that suggests a mandatory DNA database would be ideal to a comment from someone who refused to sign the petition because arrestees are innocent until proven guilty. I think the South African DNA Bill has done a good job of trying to balance privacy and security but I do want to warn against the dangers of sacrificing privacy for security. Continue reading

Petition for the DNA Bill in South Africa

We have a serious problem with crime in South Africa but there is currently an opportunity to do something about it, or at least put much-needed framework in place. The DNA Project has been pushing for parliament to pass the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill B2-2009 or DNA Bill. Although DNA profiling was first used in 1986, South Africa has no legislation regulating DNA evidence. The DNA Bill seeks to address the issue by creating legislation focussed on biological evidence, particularly DNA, establishing a national DNA database and putting in place the necessary policies and oversight of such a database. Continue reading