I’m surprised I haven’t seen any Facebook pwotest gwoups or Twatterfests about this subject. In a nutshell, a hospital in Dublin is storing a blood sample, name, address, date of birth, hospital of birth and test result from nearly every person born in Ireland since 1984.
That means if you’re under 26, there’s a good chance your DNA is in there: your health, any genetic diseases you might have, your behaviours and traits*, etc. Well, possibly. They had a couple of servers stolen in the 2007, so maybe it is there, maybe not. Sure it’s not all that important anyway, it’s just your entire personality*.
Is Mark Zuckerberg – the slimey douche, if you’ll pardon my Klatchian – ultimately right, do people really not give a shit about privacy any more? Are are people just too thick to realise the problems – current and future – that can result from this kind of thing?
Here’s two stories from Times Online with more details:
Hospital keeps secret DNA file: A DUBLIN hospital has built a database containing the DNA of almost every person born in the country since 1984 without their knowledge in an apparent breach of data protection laws.
The Children’s University hospital in Temple Street is under investigation by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) since The Sunday Times discovered it has a policy of indefinitely keeping blood samples taken to screen newborn babies for diseases.
Unknown to the DPC, the hospital has amassed 1,548,300 blood samples from â€œheel prick testsâ€ on newborns which are sent to it for screening, creating, in effect, a secret national DNA database. The majority of hospitals act on implied or verbal consent and do not inform parents what happens to their child’s sample.
The blood samples are stored at room temperature on cards with information including the baby’s name, address, date of birth, hospital of birth and test result. The DPC said it was shocked at the discovery.
Records stolen from hospital that held secret DNA database: Two computer servers containing the records of almost 1m patients were stolen from the Children’s University hospital in Temple Street in 2007 and have never been recovered.
The data were far more than that lost on stolen bank laptops in recent years. The theft was investigated by the data protection commissioner (DPC) and the gardai after being reported by the Dublin hospital in February 2007. The organisations had decided that there was no need to inform the public, believing there was little chance of the thief being able to access the data.
Patients’ details, including names, date of birth and reason for admission are thought to have been included.
* To keep my wife happy: strictly speaking ‘behaviour’ is stretching it; and DNA probably accounts for about half of your personality, the other half being learned.
I have actually been “twattering” as you so lovingly call it on this topic.
It’s getting quite a bit off traction too: http://evertb.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/dna-database-the-story-grows/
Well, I think it’s really more a case of people just not being very surprised. Organisations, while reasonably good at holding onto data they need, are very bad at getting rid of data they don’t. It’s not usually malice; it’s just that it’s not treated as high priority, there’s often no formal process, and so on.
I’m in the scary DNA database myself; I can only hope they refrain from cloning me.
Not being surprised is fair enough, not being annoyed and/or just plain doing something about it would be the stupidity I refered to. Ditto not treating privacy as a priority.