Someone else’s problem

Pippa gives yet another very good reason why taking children’s fingerprints should require consent.

On of the links on her blog leads to this article, that also talks about DNA Databases:

The expansion of DNA databases is one of the rare issues capable of generating united opposition across the political spectrum. Ideologues of both the right and the left are sufficiently suspicious of state power to be mistrustful of expanding DNA databases, if perhaps for slightly different reasons. But this suspicion among intellectuals does not translate into grassroots opposition. I would suggest that the principal reason that voters do not oppose expanded criminal DNA databases is that they do not think of themselves or their loved ones as subjects of the database. Criminal identification databases are for “criminals,” people most voters are apt to think of as “other” than themselves.

A good point. What Blair describes as ‘decent, law-abiding citizens’ never seem to believe that repressive measures might impinge on them. Thus, for instance, the information-sharing plans for children ‘won’t really affect us’ because they are designed for those dreadful people who can’t bring their children up properly. ASBOs are for somebody else’s teenaged son. Curfews surely don’t mean that young Hugo or Lucy has to be in by 9pm?

I spend a lot of my life in the company of criminal lawyers, who often remark on the degree of shock expressed by ‘decent, law-abiding citizens’ when they find themselves in a police cell. One friend was called out as duty solicitor one evening to an incredulous client who kept saying: “I’m very busy. This just shouldn’t be happening!” Apparently he seemed to be under the impression that the police only arrest those wearing blue and white stripy suits and carrying a bag marked ‘swag’.


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