A study of Spanish attitudes regarding the custody and use of forensic DNA databases

Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2008 Mar;2(2):138-49. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2007.10.201.


One of the issues that has resulted in much disagreement in many countries at different levels concerns the kind of institution that should be given the responsibility of exercising custody over biological samples and the DNA profiles obtained from these samples. In the field of forensic genetics, there is no doubt that the existence of DNA criminal databases benefits the control and investigation of crime. However, certain criticism, supported to a great extent by the particular vision of genetic exceptionalism has been aimed at the ethical and social consequences resulting from the inappropriate use of such databases. In this sense, it was stated that the support of the population was required for those regulations that propose the extension of police powers in the collection and storage of biological samples, as well as their corresponding DNA analyses. Without such backing, such measures may cause society to distrust the nature of the protection afforded by the legal system and be interpreted as interference in the civil liberties and human rights of the individual. We believe that the opinion poll which has been carried out among the Spanish population may serve to reveal the public attitudes/criteria which society has with regard to those institutions responsible for the custody of DNA profile databases. Finally, it must be pointed out that when the interviewees were asked about what institution or institutions should protect and maintain data confidentiality 59.7% considered that custody should remain in the hands of the National Agency for DNA Profiles (a judicially backed, autonomous public institution).

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Confidentiality
  • DNA Fingerprinting / ethics*
  • Databases, Nucleic Acid / ethics*
  • Databases, Nucleic Acid / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Forensic Genetics*
  • Humans
  • Public Opinion
  • Spain