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Opinion on the National Police Agency's DNA Database System

December 21, 2007
Japan Federation of Bar Associations

Full Text (PDF:241KB)


Summary of the Opinion

  1. The DNA Profile Information Database System, currently being operated by the National Police Agency, must be established and operated in accordance with laws, not by regulations, so that the right to privacy and the right to control personal information are not infringed. Hence, National Public Safety Commission Regulation No. 15 should be abolished.
  2. Since DNA profile information is the "ultimate form of individual privacy," legislation should be enacted including provisions on taking, object of registration, retention, use, expungement of data, quality assurance, and a monitoring and relief agency. The law should provide as follows:

    1. Taking

        1. ) DNA profile information may be taken only if there is specific necessity for criminal investigation, and may not be taken for the sole purpose of registration to the database without any specific necessity for criminal investigation.
        2. ) In principle, taking of DNA profile information from suspects shall be based on court warrants. In case of voluntary submission as an exception, police authorities shall give a full written explanation including, but not limited to, the meaning of taking and methods of use.

      1.  Scope of Registration

        1. ) DNA profile information to be registered shall be limited to currently collected profiles. That is, crime scene DNA profiles, unnatural death DNA profiles, and suspect DNA profiles.
          The profile information shall not contain genetic information.
        2. ) Suspect DNA profile information to be registered shall be limited to certain types of crimes, such as felonies against life and physical integrity, including robbery and/or murder, and/or sexual offenses.
        3. ) If police were to register DNA profile information contained in a biological sample which is voluntarily submitted by a suspect, police shall acquire another written consent from the suspect.
        4. ) As a basic principle, juvenile suspects shall be excluded from the scope of registration.

      2.  Retention

        1. ) In order to prevent illicit access to the database or leakage of information, the information administrator shall be clearly identified and his/her rights and duties shall be clearly indicated.
        2. ) Persons who have access to the database shall be limited.
        3. ) Illicit use of the database shall be penalized.
        4. ) The retention period of data shall be limited.

      3.  Use

        1. ) Purpose of use shall be limited to specific criminal investigations, and any other use shall be prohibited.
        2. ) When a defendant tries to claim innocence or asks for a retrial, use of the database to clarify false charges shall be allowed and the use shall not fall under "other use" set out above.
        3. ) Matching data with information retained by other administrative functions shall be prohibited.

      4. Expungement

        1. ) Expungement shall be required when a defendant is acquitted, the prosecution is dismissed, or a suspect is not prosecuted because he or she is cleared of suspicion or there is not enough evidence to prosecute, or the data was found to be "illegally obtained evidence," or the person dies within the retention period of the information.
        2. ) A right to request expungement or other relevant relief shall be clearly indicated to those who are wrongfully registered to the database.
      5.  Quality Assurance

        Quality assurance (reliability and/or accuracy) measures for DNA Expert Examination, which extracts DNA profile information in the database, shall be provided.

      6.  Monitoring and Relief Agency

        Third-party agencies to monitor the establishment and operation of the database system, including DNA profile testing methods and quality assurance, shall be established in order to check infringement of the right to privacy and to provide remedies.
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