What we still don’t know



Who does our DNA belong to?

Police have been building large databases of DNA profiles for years, sometimes of people arrested and then released.

Criminologist examines a sequence of human DNA © Getty Images

Having the DNA profile of everyone in the country may sound like a detective’s dream, but others say it makes everyone suspicious and violates privacy rights.

With DNA testing companies and the NHS also collecting masses of DNA samples, there is no easy answer as to who your genetic code actually belongs to or what they can do with it.

Further information on forensics:


How to monitor the digital world

The FBI wants Apple to unlock a suspect’s iPhone and has gone to court to force Apple to comply © Getty Images

Government security agencies are engaged in a battle with the tech giants for access to the evidence they deem essential to preventing terrorism.

Amazingly, even the FBI’s in-house digital experts cannot unlock encrypted iPhones without Apple’s help.

Even more troubling for security services is the burgeoning art of digital steganography, the technique of which secret messages are hidden in seemingly innocuous files like vacation photos.


Can DNA tell us what a suspect looks like?

Scientists have been able to map how certain genes are linked to certain facial features, but this relationship is immensely complex and not yet precise enough to be useful.

DNA can't tell us if anyone wears glasses or has a beard © Getty Images
DNA can’t tell us if anyone wears glasses or has a beard © Getty Images

It is also unlikely that a DNA sample will ever tell if someone is overweight or tanned, as these are environmental traits, not genetic. Plus, you can always wear glasses or grow a beard.


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