The governments of many countries, including the UK, have begun keeping a database with DNA profiles. These consist mainly of the information of those who have been accused, or convicted, of a crime. The samples have been collected from human cells at crime scenes, or the criminals themselves. Short tandem repeats of the DNA are stored and tested, instead of the full genomic sequence, and these help to identify individuals without revealing their entire genetic composition.
- Identification of criminals – The majority of the samples held on genetic databases have been collected to solve a felony. DNA evidence helps investigators conclude a significantly higher percentage of crimes, which would otherwise remain unsolved. It also decreases the amount of time spent looking for the perpetrators. In addition, a database helps lower the possibility of the wrong person being convicted, and DNA evidence has helped to overthrow cases where an innocent person has been incarcerated.
- Decrease in Terrorism – Terrorism is one of the biggest problems which we are currently experiencing worldwide. In order to commit their acts of horror, terrorists travel both near and far. If governments shared their genetic databases, the possibility of capturing them as they enter a country would be quite high, decreasing the likelihood of them being able to carry out their mission.
- Health Benefits – Scientists and medical personnel have admitted to having only a vague understanding of the human genetic composition, and the ways in which it can be tapped into in order to treat and prevent diseases. Experimentation and research with samples on a database could provide cures, and other knowledge, for conditions which are genetically transferred. In addition, many lives would be saved by recognizing donors quickly from the information held on a database.
- Invasion of Privacy – A person’s DNA can reveal how susceptible they are to a certain disease, and other things that they might like to keep hidden from the general public. Databases are always vulnerable to hacking and this will expose people to the possibility of blackmail. The members of the population will also be uncertain about who has access to their information.
- Government Control – If a country makes becoming a part of its genetic database mandatory, there will be many basic human rights that are violated. It would create a ‘Big Brother’ environment where those in charge are watching, and have an increased level of control, over all of its citizens.
- Expensive – Creating an extensive database would be a costly project, and other areas of the country would more than likely be neglected in order for it to be completed and maintained. The information would have to be stored under the most secure conditions, and the necessary steps would need to be taken continuously to ensure that the samples wouldn’t be tampered with.