Case summary

S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom


European Court of Human Rights
4 December 2008

Facts
The applicants had been charged with criminal offences, but at the end of the proceedings were not found guilty. During the criminal proceedings the fingerprints and DNA samples were collected from them and stored in the police database. Afterwards the applicants asked the police to destroy the samples, but the police refused to do so, as the law allowed to keep the samples for an unlimited period of time. 

Complaint
The applicants complained that the storage of the samples of their fingerprints and DNA violated their right to private life.

Court’s ruling
The Court ruled that the storage of the DNA samples and fingerprints of the applicants was not necessary and proportionate. Therefore the applicants’ right to private life had been violated.

The Court found that:

  • The law allowing the police to store information had a legitimate aim – to assist in the identification of future offenders.

  • However, the law was formulated too broadly.

  • Applicants had not given consent to the storage of their data.

  • Applicants who were not convicted of any criminal offence were treated the same way in respect of their personal data storage as persons who were found guilty of crimes.

  • It was almost impossible for the applicants to require removal of the information on them from the police database.

  • There was no control over the information kept in the database.

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