Friday, September 11, 2009

News: Italy to Create National DNA Database

EDRI reports that after a long process the Italian Parliament has passed law 85 ratifying the Prum Convention and creating the legal basis for an Italian National DNA Database. EDRI is scathing, however, about the lack of safeguards built into the legislation. Particularly of note:
  • "Lacks any general provision that would oblige all the responsible parties to adopt serious and adequate security measures against unauthorized access, data tampering, and illegal handling of data and information."
  • It says "nothing about the need for a properly established chain of custody...[making it]...impossible for a "planted" or "altered" sample to be used."
  • Nothing is said "about the effect of an improperly managed chain of custody on admissibility of the samples as evidence in Court"
  • "Law enforcement officers can access the NDNA database without prior authorisation from the prosecutor or the judge that is responsible for the investigation involving the sample or profile in question (under Italian law, law enforcement bodies are under the direction and control of the public prosecutor). Since the article is silent about the matter, only future court decisions will determine whether prior authorization is needed to access the NDNA database, thus leaving wide open a window of several years in which "anything can happen".
  • Requires "neither the positive identification of the personnel accessing the NDNA database and material in the central lab, nor the secure logging of access to and activity involving the profile and sample."
  • Does not "clearly identify who is in charge of ordering the destruction of samples and profiles."
  • Punishment for a public officer "that communicates or uses data and information without authorization, or for purposes other than those stipulated specifically in the law" is negligible: "a jail term of between one and three years...[which in practice could be reduced to]... "a final jail term of less than six months that could be avoided by simply paying a fine."
  • By leaving white collar crime profiles out the legislation opens the door to the database skewing, say, the racial balance of future crime statistics.

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