Watchdog: European DNA Database a Potential Nightmare


By Mick Meaney – RINF | Speaking at a news conference, European Data Protection Supervisor, Peter Hustinx, raised concerns over the European DNA Database, criticising its lack of safeguards to protect tourists and the public travelling around the EU.

“In some cases it will be a nightmare not only for citizens but also law enforcement authorities. What might have been done responsibly has not been done well,” said Mr Hustinx.

“Tourists could find themselves suspects in a cross-border criminal investigation merely for having had a drink at a motorway service station,” he said.

He criticised Germany saying: “I’m afraid we can’t do much to repair the problem. I found it regrettable that the Germany Presidency used the dynamics of the presidency to get something adopted that should not have been adopted in this way. The safeguards are not clear, harmonised or even available.”

Germany held the rotating EU presidency at the time, which meant the rules were adopted in just four months, making the European Union rush through the procedure at the expense of safety.

The rules, as agreed by interior ministers in 2007, allow police to identify a suspect from hair, fingernails or sperm and will be able to check DNA data gathered in other EU member states.

Commenting on Mr Hustinx’s statement, a German official said: “The data protection safeguards were based on a model used by seven countries – Germany, Austria, the Benelux countries, France and Spain – in a pilot of the DNA-sharing scheme, and they were regarded as adequate.”

According to Mr Hustinx the model “did not address differences in various EU national legislations was too complex to function efficiently.”