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article imageHigh number of Norwegians support giving newborn DNA to police

By Anne Sewell     Jun 14, 2014 in World
According to a study by the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, two-fifths of the Norwegian public would be happy with their government saving DNA profiles of newborns, to allegedly assist in future police investigations.
The survey involved over 1,500 Norwegians and showed that 21 percent agreed strongly with the measure, 22 percent agreed to a certain extent, while 44 percent were against the idea.
According to Bjørn Erik Thon, director of the authority, he was amazed to see how many actually supported the idea.
"From a privacy standpoint, this is a bad number," he said. "It would be a violation of the newborn's privacy that they could be treated as a potential criminal from birth."
Thon added that he was also concerned police could then determine genes or gene-sets that predispose people towards criminality, which, in a manner similar to the science fiction movie Minority Report, would allow them to identify potential thieves and murderers while they are still in their diapers.
"One can easily imagine that such a sample could be stored somewhere. We do not know how you will be able to use DNA in about 10 or 20 years," he said. "Maybe you will be able to look for a terrorist gene or a criminality gene,"
However, there are some in favor of the proposal, including Hege Salomon, a lawyer who specializes in representing rape victims. She has been pushing for hospitals to collect genetic material from newborns to add to a central database used by police.
"I'm in favor of it as I see that in Norway there are a large number of rape cases and sexual assaults against children and they are not able to find the perpetrators."
"It should be both from newborns and also from immigrants coming into Norway."
However, she dismissed the idea of DNA samples being used to identify potential criminals, stating that strict legal limits would be placed on access to the DNA database.
On the medical side of things, several experts believe that the practice will be normal in Norwegian hospitals within the next decade, saying doctors could then find the genetic cause of between 3,000 and 4,000 different genetic diseases.
Norwegian sources:
Aftenposten
Hordaland
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