Read this if you own a Porsche

and read it also if you are not so much interested in German cars but in population-based DNA registries.

  1. In 1996 all 750 Porsche car owner here in Munich were asked for a DNA identity test – the High Court in Karlsruhe later decided, that this approach was adequate. All test results, however, were discarded after that screening as
  2. forensic DNA testing (invented in 1985 by Sir Jeffreys) is only allowed for severe criminal offense and needs the decision of a judge.
  3. Some German authorities now want to change the rules – allowing DNA testing also in less severe cases, without order of a judge and infinite computer storage of DNA profiles. They get support by police investigators who complain about unresolved crimes and by victims that fear repeaters (boostered by the success in the Moshammer case)
  4. A considerable fraction of these DNA profiles has errors – lab errors, chimera, twins…
  5. Scientists fear that the acceptance to take part in genetic studies will drop if these profiles can be easily matched to research data sets.
  6. A large part of the population is interested in genetic privacy and do not want their government to store their genetic profiles: Ethnic data have been abused in the past to discriminate and kill people – politics and government may change in the future.

German BKA seems to have already 3900,000 DNA fingerprints in stock (other European countries store DNA profiles without any consent). Is there any way out? Here is an idea that I had on my morning daily bike trip:

  1. It is a waste of time and money to discard any test result – and both parties have strong arguments to use these data and to delete it.
  2. Why couldn’t the DNA test result be encoded, saved on a credit-card-like “DNAcard” including a PIN and given to the DNA owner before being deleted from the lab files? It would even be possible to reduce information content – to allow only for a 99% probability for identification.
  3. This would leave any individual the right to identify himself whenever he or she wants to be identified. In case of crime persecution, individuals may asked to insert their “DNAcard” in a public reader that will check the hash of his profile against the hash of any wanted profile (without storing the individual profile on any computer).
    1. Is that a solution?