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    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 18th 2009 edited
    This is going to end well. Israeli scientists have shown two distinct methods in fabricating DNA evidence, including one that only requires they have access to a DNA database that includes the intended framee's sequence.

    Currently they're able to tell if a sample has been fabricated due to the fact that prefab samples are missing certain molecules, but I don't know how long that will last as an indicator.

    Mark this down as number 48483 or so on the "Reasons why you should be scared shitless of DNA databases" list.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeAug 18th 2009
    Ok, that's frightening.
  1.  (6621.3)
    Or is it "more reasons to be scared of Mossad"?
  2.  (6621.4)
    The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.

    “You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”

    Wait a second, what? Any biology undergraduate can build an actual DNA sample out of a database entry and plant it on a crime scene? Somehow that seems preposterous, perhaps I misunderstood.

    Still, that they can turn someone's blood into someone else's is indeed frightening.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 18th 2009
    @Nicodemus: I tend to subscribe to the "if we're hearing about it now, the tech has been around for about twenty years already" camp, myself. And I don't do too much to piss off the Mossad. So I'm not *too* scared.

    @Andre: I wondered about the biology undergrad thing myself. It does seem a bit far-fetched, like they're trying a bit too hard to sell their product. But yeah, the principle behind this is pretty scary. According to the article, all the samples are missing is the methylated molecules. Considering how far our molecular chem and bio skills have spread in the past few decades, I can't imagine that's out of our reach. Or even particularly far off.

    What happens when the gold standard in forensic evidences is suddenly invalidated, if it proceeds that far? Rollback of the CSI effect? Not to mention that this has got to be causing thousands of court motions challenging DNA convictions; lately in the US, access to DNA on which a conviction was based has been a particularly brutal fight. I think it's about to get more brutal.
  3.  (6621.6)
    This is some pretty batshit crazy/scary stuff right there, and the implications of being able to do this are far-reaching. Supposedly the tech of our age is helping create smarter criminals, imagine if they start realizing they can do this shit?
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeAug 19th 2009
    Remember than most DNA tests don't look at the whole database - they look at about 20 "single nucleotide polymorphisms" - areas of the genome known to be particularly variable between individuals.
  4.  (6621.8)
    On the other hand, it's been possible to fake fingerprints for a while now, yet the police still collect them at a crime scene. Overall I think it's good that there's no single form of magical, incontrovertible evidence. This way when DNA evidence is found the police can investigate the owner of said DNA (since there's a fair chance it's not a frame-up) but will actually have to use that investigation to turn up slightly more concrete evidence.
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeAug 19th 2009

    At lest in the US though, a lot of times DNA is used as a magic bullet with juries in murder cases. There's been a fight against dna for a while now as a kill-all bit of evidence, and there have been quite a few cases where it later turned out the convicted party was innocent, and the conviction came down to just dna.
  5.  (6621.10)
    Pssh, they've been doing this for years. How else do you think they framed...

    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeAug 19th 2009 edited
    @klumaster - Once you've got the necessary access and equipment, it'll be easy to consistently replicate the feat of fabricating DNA evidence and leaving it somewhere. Fabricating a latent print at a crime scene is much more delicate (in terms of in-the-field ministrations) and requires more time at the scene than splattering some prefab blood, and as looneynerd said, DNA still has this aura of infallibility around it, so it worries me a bit more.

    And Dredd got what was coming to him.
  6.  (6621.12)
    Fair point, I hadn't considered you could just build a tank of frame-DNA at home and just squirt it about anywhere you liked. That said, the fact that DNA is already being used as magic bullet evidence is enough argument to me that it needs to die.
  7.  (6621.13)
    Fair point, I hadn't considered you could just build a tank of frame-DNA at home and just squirt it about anywhere you liked. That said, the fact that DNA is already being used as magic bullet evidence is enough argument to me that it needs to die.

    Not die, I'd say, just not be used as magic bullet evidence and instead as one of many forms of evidence in the course of an investigation.
    • CommentAuthorIllogic
    • CommentTimeAug 19th 2009
    Just using DNA as evidence seems lazy to me. There's fingerprints, fibers, blood splatter, and probably quite a few other ways to learn what happened at a crime scene.