Time for full and frank data disclosure (opinion)

From an editorial in New Scientist:

DNA profiling technology has improved by leaps and bounds since its potential was first glimpsed by geneticist Alec Jeffreys in 1984. But as DNA databases grow, so does the risk that coincidental matches will lead to false convictions.

This week we report on the publication of a letter in Science, signed by 41 scientists and defence lawyers, demanding access to CODIS, the US national DNA database, which is controlled by the FBI. The signatories want to test some of the underlying assumptions about the likelihood that two or more people share the same DNA profile (see “Time to open up DNA databases”).

Read more on New Scientist.

Although the thrust of the article is on criminal applications, let’s not forget that more and more states and countries are amassing huge databases of DNA. If the data could be used to convict you of a crime you did not commit, wouldn’t you want to know the odds of someone else’s DNA profile matching yours?

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