Secrets and Surveillance

Speaking on Secrets and Surveillance at the RSA, London on 15 April 2010, followed by questions.

One Response to “Secrets and Surveillance”

  1. gyges says:

    About 28 mins in, Heather is asked about DNA databases. The questioner asks her in such a manner as to suggest that it is a given that DNA forensic science is infallible. It isn’t.

    A recent issue of New Scientist carries the story, “Fallible DNA evidence can mean prison or freedom” which tells us that …

    YOU are the juror: would you trust DNA evidence? Most people regard it as near infallible- it produces the right result or no result, exonerating the innocent and securing convictions where other evidence fails.

    But DNA is not as objective as you might think. In the first of a two-part investigation, New Scientist reveals that much of the DNA analysis now conducted in crime labs can suffer from worrying subjectivity and bias. We asked forensic analysts to interpret a sample of real DNA evidence and found that they reached opposing conclusions about whether the suspect matched it or not. Our subsequent survey of labs around the world also shows that there are significant inconsistencies in the guidelines on how to interpret a sample. The findings suggest that the difference between prison and freedom could often rest on the opinions of a single individual.

    The introduction of DNA evidence to the …

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