Rotterdam police chief wants to store DNA of all Dutch citizens

Monday, 14 March 2011

Rotterdam-Rijnmond police chief Frank Paauw is of the opinion that the DNA of all Dutch citizens should be compulsorily stored in a national database for the investigation of crime. He declared this in an interview in the paper of the regional political party Leefbaar Rotterdam ('Livable Rotterdam'). While according to police chief Paauw privacy is ‘‘a great asset’’, he thinks that massive storage of DNA can make the ‘‘world more secure’’.

In the paper of Leefbaar Rotterdam Paauw cites the 19th century French criminologist Alexandre Lacassagne who said that ‘‘every society gets the crime it deserves’’. For the Privacy First Foundation this includes privacy crime and we are eager to point to a more relevant quote by Benjamin Franklin: ‘‘Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.’’

Compulsory storage of the DNA of all Dutch citizens in a national database constitutes a collective human rights violation beforehand. The sheer disproportionate character of it already signifies a gross violation of the right to privacy and physical integrity of every Dutch citizen. Apart from the total lack of knowledge and respect for human rights that police chief Paauw expresses with his statements, this is also proof of an obsolete vision on society in which security and privacy have for years formed a false contradiction. Privacy is security: the personal security of the individual against a government that no longer trusts its own citizens and wishes to treat every Dutch citizen as a potential suspect. Privacy First wants to halt this development and move forward with a positive vision on society in which trust and freedom are basic values.

Update: Police chief Paauw gets no support for his plan whatsoever, neither from politics, nor from the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. Dutch Minister Opstelten calls it ''disproportionate" and "beyond the pale''.

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