fingerprints, because ordinary fingerprints already provide a complete identifier and are far more likely to be recovered in connection with security breaches than are blood samples that are amenable to DNA analysis. As for identifying perpetrators, there is no doubt that the system would have some effect. However, Americans have generally been reluctant to allow the creation of national identification systems, and DNA profiling poses a special risk of invasion of privacy (concerning personal and medical traits). We caution against moving in that direction. Finally, we note that current technology is far too expensive to contemplate the creation of such a large databank.

Samples from Anonymous Persons for Population Genetics

The committee notes that statistical databanks of random population samples are required for estimating allele frequencies, as described in Chapter 3. To protect the privacy of persons whose only role is to make up a statistical sample, their identities should never be retained in a databank, and the databanks should never be searched for matches in connection with investigations.


Another difficult issue is the storage and maintenance of DNA samples themselves (or any reusable products of the typing process), as opposed to DNA profiles. In principle, retention of DNA samples creates an opportunity for misues—i.e., for later testing to determine personal information. In general, the committee discourages the retention of DNA samples.

However, there is a practical reason to retain DNA samples for short periods. Because DNA technology is changing so rapidly, we expect the profiles produced with today's methods to be incompatible with tomorrow's methods. Accordingly, today's profiles will need to be discarded and replaced with profiles based on the successor methods. It would be extremely expensive and inefficient to have to redraw blood samples for retyping. We are therefore persuaded that retention of samples after typing should be permitted for the short term—only during the startup phase of DNA profile databanks. As databanks become established and technology stabilizes somewhat, samples should be destroyed promptly after typing.


It is worth commenting on the nature of the information that should be stored in a DNA profile databank.

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