DNA databases & medical privacy

Kuwait is reported to have become the first country to pass a law (in 2015, due for implementation this year) making it mandatory for all its 1.3 million citizens and 2.9 million foreign residents to have their DNA entered onto a national database.

It is said that the mandatory DNA test only targets non-encrypted genes that are not affected by diseases. The test is not done to diagnose any disease or obtain medical information because such information is part of individuals’ privacy and the law “bans access to it”.

The legislation (78/2015) followed a suicide bombing in Kuwait City on 26 June 2015, which killed 26 people and wounded 227 more. The government hopes that the new database, which is projected to cost around US$400 million, will make it quicker and easier to make arrests in the future.

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