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DNA Tech Regulation Bill needs safeguards to allay privacy, misuse concerns: India Police Foundation

While the DNA Technology Regulation Bill will help India's sparse infrastructure and promote scientific crime investigation, it needs adequate safeguards to prevent misuse and allay privacy concerns, India Police Foundation, a Delhi-based multidisciplinary think tank, told the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology regarding the bill. The Foundation warned that sensitive DNA information can reveal family ancestry, skin colour, behaviour, illness, health status, and susceptibility to diseases. This can be used to specifically target individuals of their families using their genetic data. Lawful and effective use of DNA technology can happen with trained and reliable officials and experts, tools, protocols, and sampling methods. "Most importantly, protocols establishing a trusted chain of custody of samples, reliable and clearly defined processes for analysis, and proper use of expert evidence in court are critical to ensure their evidentiary value. Any gaps in chain of custody will cast suspicion on the integrity of the sample itself," the Foundation said. The Jairam Ramesh Committee submitted its report (see our summary) on the DNA Technology Regulation Bill in February. Among its core tenets is the creation of data banks that will house the DNA profiles of not just convicts, but also undertrials, suspects, missing people, and of samples gathered from crime scenes. It was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee headed by Ramesh in October 2019. The Committee consulted 15 experts on the bill (see full list here). In addition, Ramesh sought the views of some distinguished jurists and police administrators, including Justice Srikrishna. Specific changes: consent, board,…

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