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Conservatives call for DNA databases to be reduced

'Data should be scrapped if suspect not convicted'

The Conservatives have criticised the security of the government's databases holding sensitive data on millions of Brits.

"A key problem in the United Kingdom in recent years has been that databases have been built and then issues of data security have been addressed as 'bolt on' considerations rather than considered as integral to the initial design," the party said in a paper.

If the Conservatives are elected in the next general election, the party says it would take several measures to ensure data safety, such as avoiding having a single database that holds massive amounts of information. There isn't a fixed date for the next general election but it must take place before June 3, 2010, according to the Electoral Commission.

"New technologies are enabling this information to be dispersed and held locally rather than in centralised databases or mainframes," the paper said. "This approach is not only less expensive than constructing a giant central database, but it is also more secure."

The UK's National DNA database holds some five million records, including people who have never been convicted of a crime or do not have a police record. The Conservatives are proposing to only retain DNA while a person is under investigation, and expunge records for those who are not convicted. The DNA for those who have been convicted would be retained indefinitely.

The party also said it planned to scrap the National Identity Register and Contact Point, which stores information on minors under 18.

The Conservatives didn't expound further on the architecture of a new system, saying the resources would be deployed to "more effective measure".

Other ideas include giving the Information Commissioner the power to audit government agencies and other public bodies on a rotating annual basis to ensure data isn't carelessly managed.

Government departments would also be required to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment before launching new projects involving the collection of data, the Conservatives said.

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