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Bavarian Law Broadens Police Surveillance and DNA Profiling Powers

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-05-17 02:28:13
Digital Liberty

In Germany, controversial law gives Bavarian police new power to use DNA []

Police in the German state of Bavaria will have new powers to use forensic DNA profiling after a controversial law passed [May 15] in the Landtag, the state parliament in Munich. The law is the first in Germany that allows authorities to use DNA to help determine the physical characteristics, such as eye color, of an unknown culprit.

The new DNA rules are part of a broader law which has drawn criticism of the wide surveillance powers it gives the state's police to investigate people they deem an "imminent danger," people who haven't necessarily committed any crimes but might be planning to do so.

[The] move was prompted, in part, by the rape and murder of a medical student in Freiburg, Germany, in late 2016. An asylum seeker, originally from Afghanistan, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison. But some authorities complained that they could have narrowed their search more quickly if they had been able to use trace DNA to predict what the suspect would look like. Existing federal and state laws allow investigators to use DNA only to look for an exact match between crime scene evidence and a potential culprit, either in a database of known criminals or from a suspect.

In 2017, federal authorities proposed allowing investigators to conduct broader DNA profiling, but the proposal stalled after critics called for an expanded ethical debate on the advantages and disadvantages of the techniques.

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