I just stumbled across this from Kiwipolemicist; it seems that if you were born in New Zealand from 1969 onwards, chances are that the New Zealand government is holding a sample of your blood. Some 2.1 million blood samples taken from newborns via the ‘heel-prick’ test are still on file today stored on “Guthrie cards.”
This is basically an inchoate genetic database; if the government wanted to, it could easily tap into this info and have the means get a substantial head-start on creating a DNA profile of all its citizens. The Hon Peter Dunne is quoted in a report by the Privacy Commissioner, at para 7.4, arguing that the database has the potential to be “a powerful weapon in the fight against crime.
But hang on a minute, this powerful weapon would be obtained without probable cause; in this instance, evidence that a reasonable person would deem sufficient to conclude that a particular person will or has committed a crime. There are strong arguments to justify the New Zealand DNA Data-Bank’s holding of two crime based DNA databases, the National DNA Database (containing DNA profiles from those convicted of serious offences) and the Crime Sample Database (containing DNA profiles from crime scene samples). However, to talk of creating one from every citizen is to consider a serious breach of civil liberties; such liberties as the right for innocent people to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures on the part of the State.
One might argue that if the State has not made this move having had this database since 1969 it is not likely to. In addition to being, not the point, I think this is naive and KP agrees with me:
[T]rusting the state to properly use personal information is like putting a dog and a steak in a closed room and expecting to find the steak untouched the next day.
A Memorandum of Understanding regulating requests from the Police for access to the Guthrie Cards is already in existence and has been put to use, more than once. Further, we are all familiar with NZ governments, from both camps, being too loose with civil liberties when they have an end in mind.
As Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so while I still can, I am going to apply to have mine and my children’s DNA returned.