DNA Tests Mandatory for Everyone in Kuwait

Post by Mark


In a move that will make privacy advocates cringe, Kuwait passed a law yesterday making DNA tests mandatory for all residents. According to the AFP, people who refuse testing will face a year in prison and a hefty fine.

The draconian law will establish a comprehensive database of all residents in Kuwait, presumably making it easier for law enforcement to track down criminals after the fact. The country’s 1.3 million citizens and 2.9 million foreign residents will all be affected. Roughly $400 million has been set aside to implement the national DNA database program.

Many countries, including England, Sweden and the United States, routinely store the DNA of convicted criminals. Kuwait’s program would be the first such mandatory DNA test for every resident of a given country, regardless of criminal history. [Gizmodo]

Not sure how I feel about this. Don’t think I’m allowed to have feelings on this anyway, it’s compulsory so if I don’t like it I’ll have to GTFO or else I’ll have to spend a year in jail.

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69 comments, add your own...

  1. Ali says:

    After a year in jail what are the options? Are you off the hook?

    • Mark says:

      No, you go to jail for a year and they get your DNA anyway

      • peter says:

        Mark, why are you afraid of the law ? You have not done any sort of illegal thing , do you?

        • Mark says:

          Just because I understand and appreciate the concept of privacy doesn’t mean I did something wrong

          • 3azeez says:

            They did take your finger prints before giving you a driving license, no? Why didn’t you feel that fingerprinting you is invasion of privacy as well?

            Other countries around the world require you to supply biometric information (finger prints, eye retinas and irises and facial patterns) before you can get their visa or before granting you entry at the border. I’m pretty sure you’ve been to at least one of those countries… why didn’t you complain about your privacy?

            I believe you’re only complaining for the sake of complaining and missing the point why people truly complain about this matter.

            There is a reason why Kuwaitis and Muslims in general prefer not to have such DNA database. And I’m not in a mood for going into it.

            • Mark says:

              Finger prints and iris scans don’t hold the same information as your DNA. Finger prints and iris scans are superficial, they’re like having your photograph taken. Your DNA on the other hand is a lot more personal, it contains a lot more information about who you are. So I don’t think I’m complaining for no reason, you might not care about your privacy but a lot of other people do.

              • 3azeez says:

                Pardon my ignorance, but what do you mean by saying “Your DNA on the other hand is a lot more personal, it contains a lot more information about who you are.”?

                Unless you have doubts about your parents, the DNA will not provide any information that is not already on a database somewhere already being shared everywhere by law enforcement agencies.

                Am I missing something?

                • Mark says:

                  You’re using the nothing to hide argument and in response I’m going to quote something Edward Snowden recently said which should hopefully make you realize why privacy is important:

                  “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

                • 3azeez says:


                  I can’t reply to your message for some reason so I’ll respond to you here…

                  You are misinterpreting Snowden quote. His quote is more relevant IF I say “let them track my daily activities, my phone conversations, my email… I don’t care I have nothing to hide”.

                  The DNA argument is not similar to that. The DNA information is more about identifying you as a person and not to identify your private matters.

                  Your identity is not private. That is why you are required to provide biometric information if you wish to live, work or just visit a country. This is why you are issued with identity card, driving license and passport. They all have set of information printed on them… with reference numbers that lead to databases with more detailed information about who you are.

                  And who you are is already documented and stored at different government agencies for different reasons. Think of it this way, the Ministry of Interior in Kuwait already know your details because you have documents I mentioned earlier. You are Lebanese and you go to Lebanon frequently. So they have your data too. You’re holding American citizenship. The Americans have your identity details as well. and these are just tiny examples… I’m pretty sure if you think about it you’ll come up with longer list.

                  We are not reinventing the wheel here. DNA collection and databases exist everywhere in the world. There are different approaches to collect samples… one of them if you want to seek treatment at government hospital, they will collect your DNA and store it in the database.

                  I still don’t see how using DNA identification is an invasion of privacy?!

                • Mark says:

                  I have to disagree with you on how you interpret Snowdens quote but I think you see it that way because you don’t think your DNA carries any personal information and it shouldn’t be private.

                • 3azeez says:

                  I do believe that DNA carries private personal information that can be used to identify my identity by authorities without invading my private life. Therefore I have no objection on it especially when knowing that DNA tests and solve crimes, free innocent people behind bars and bring criminals to justice that thought they were far gone from any punishment.

                  The only concern is related to paternity test. Kuwaitis do ask about a man/woman origins before they get married for example. Imagine having a DNA “googling” feature where people going to search for your true bloodline. Muslims believe in “Paternity of the child goes to the (marital) bed”. Meaning even if a wife cheat on her husband and get pregnant… the husband is still the father of the child under Islam. This will start some legal issues in court since the court system is split between Islamic and modern legislations.

  2. Hamad Al Otaibi says:

    I see no issue in DNA testing and data collection – what is the privacy that is needed in relation to DNA? more pros than cons

    • Mark says:

      What are the pros? Other than making it easier to identify criminals?

      • M says:

        1:Finding criminals quicker (wa7sh hawalli would not have had those extra days on the loose, hence less kids would have been violated)

        2:It can also solve crimes that have already taken place ( a murder/rape victim with anonymous “non criminal” DNA found on them, unidentifiable until now)

        3:Maybe allow use of the DNA database to be used for scientific research, looking for markers which may affect said people who are more susceptible to certain diseases. Potentially being able to inform these people of these increased risks. (i know considering its Kuwait, i’m being too hopeful on this one)

        4: Splicing my DNA with an Arabian horse, creating the worlds first Centaur?

        1: my privacy

        • Vin says:

          Splicing DNA with a horse to make a Centaur made my day.

          Besides I think they already have our DNA they just making it official now. I mean they took a blood sample from everybody for testing didn’t they. I am sure they had enough of the sample left over for a DNA test and record.

  3. Marcopolo says:

    As someone said on Gizmodo’s comments “A DNA database is as invasive as a fingerprint database, which means it’s not invasive at all. Used to help solve crimes, is just an investigative tool”.

    • Mark says:

      That guy is an idiot. There is so much more information in your DNA than in your fingerprint.

      • Husain says:

        A DNA fingerprint can potentially:

        1. Legally exclude someone from his inheritance
        2. Raise questions of paternity
        3. Raise question of citizenship (in conjunction with point 2)
        4. Provide medical/diagnostic/pre-transplantion information potentially without consent or on the basis of an informed decision.

        it is not just like a fingerprint.

  4. buJ says:

    Wasn’t this initially discussed for genetic testing on marriage, basically to cut down on genetic problems from cousin marriage? That could be one benefit of this.

    It could also be useful for large-scale medical studies (sort of like what 23andme have been trying to do). That would make Kuwait a world leader in medical genetics. But for some reason I doubt that will happen :)

    Soo…what about if they find out someone’s not related to one of their parents?

    • Mark says:

      and thats exactly why a nationwide forced DNA collection is invasive…

      • buJ says:

        Yes I absolutely agree. There is a massive container ship filled with cans of worms ready to be opened.

        Also, using it for placing someone at the scene of a crime? Not sure if I have much faith in that since it’s quite easy for a bit of dna to get somewhere.

        I think there are scenarios where it could be beneficial, such as marriage compatibility (like they do in Iceland I think) or for medical studies, or for identifying perpetrators of rape maybe? But there’s so much room for mess ups, and I don’t know if I really trust them to carry this out properly. But yeah, this went through without much debate.

      • Inkuwait says:

        I think ( but not certain ) that DNA can alter over a lifetime due to illness for example and mutations. What would happen in that case?

        Also, when we have mistakes such as the wrong blood group put on people’s Civil ID, one wonders how ‘accurate’ DNA results would be…..

        • Mark says:

          my birthday is wrong on my civil id which is why i always worry my blood group is wrong as well. I should probably find out what my blood type really is to make sure its correct on my civil id.

  5. AJ says:

    ABSOLUTELY time to GTFO. No question about it. This is absolutely ridiculous.

  6. Batul says:

    Isn’t the government supposed to approve it first? Before publication in the official gazette?

  7. GHosTz says:

    Just like all the other rules in Kuwait, Its a compulsion not a choice.

  8. KSalue says:

    Sweet soooo..

    1.Several Kuwait male students have been known to screw around without protection while studying abroad and impregnate their partners. This should make it easier to ensure that should any women step forward the government can easily locate the father of the child and force him to take responsibility while also offering support for the mother and child and possibly integrate them into Kuwaiti society.

    Quoted from Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/3bxd7q/kuwait_makes_dna_tests_mandatory_after_is_bombing/

  9. Husain says:

    I find it hard to justify the usefulness of such a law – and this opinion is coming from someone who works in genetics here in Kuwait. A genetics database will help identify human remains, but that can be done more efficiently and at lower costs by knowing where to start an investigation and applying the science then.

    I do have to ask, how is this test any more invasive than the battery of tests everyone in Kuwait is obliged to do? (Hep, HIV, Malaria, TB, blood typing…). Without individual consent, it remain an invasion of privacy without sufficient reason in advocacy of public safety.

  10. Khan says:

    What if the criminal is a visitor from the region or other part of the world? Just like the recent event. How would the DNA database help them find the criminal?

    • Bo3aabid says:

      I assume they would collect his or her DNA upon arrival

      • Husain says:

        The visitor’s blood is first collected and stored as part of a batch. DNA is then extracted from the blood, and later amplified by a target region as the amount is so small. The analysis takes part a few days afterwards. No institution – regional or global – does large scale DNA analysis in less than a week.

        Bottom line is – this database is in no way a crime prevention measure.

      • Inkuwait says:

        Yes- will visitors on visit visas and Gulf ID be tested on arrival?
        1. The recent terrorist was visiting.
        2. A huge number of people here are working and living permanently,illegally, on visit visas.

        Come on Kuwait- think it through. Knee jerk reactions rarely work.

  11. Ahmed says:

    Humans are marked and stored like products. Every year with a new Barcode. Even some products don’t get tagged every year.

  12. Ipsom says:

    I’m not sure how to feel about this. I mean I feel like it’s an invasion of privacy but I don’t know how.

    I think there are many pros as some commenters have mentioned them, and I’m sure there’s more. I also can’t think of any cons, unless they decide to clone me or do something with my DNA without my consent.

    Did this news hit the papers?

  13. Kall says:

    Hmmm come to think if it.

    The Ministry of Health has a huge management crisis dealing with Individuals. So I guess it will be privatised.

    DNA at your local private clinics!!!

    • Husain says:

      The Ministry of Interior has it’s own Genetics Lab – with the whole point of the process being government accumulation and analysis of the database.

  14. Nads says:

    humans share 50% DNA with bananas.
    Just swab a banana :D

  15. meh says:

    So we shouldn’t allow this because it discovers historical data of anus cancer in your family.

  16. BlarneyBob says:

    They will take expat’s DNA, and start cloning.

    Result: no more expats :-p

  17. Kuwait says:

    Strange piece of news being reported first on gizmodo and no Kuwaiti press/newspaper has a clue…

  18. GoogleIt says:

    Wait a minute, so if somebody lets say kisses a girl, will they know it via that test? If so, damn, there will be a lot crimes soon lol

  19. peter says:

    I dont think they would implement it, its just talk. Gcc nations always have a style of showing off that they will do this and that but hardly implement anything. Just like they told 7 years back that they will abolish the Slave based Sponsorship system.

    Suppose they implement the DNA testing, in this case they will have to give Citizenship to so many Philipinos. And moreover so many People will be caught up for having Children out of the wedlock. Its going to be a disaster , especially for Kuwaitis who are most active in extra marital affairs lol…..expats also involved but very less because they generally get deported for such violations.

  20. Gorgon says:

    Considering that the government is totally inept at handling visas, handing out driving licenses and even at fixing the screwed roads ;I have a feeling this is gonna be screwed up in a major way.

    Also, how are they gonna get the DNA of the vast number of stateless people and the illegals who don’t have visa?

  21. Matt says:

    DNA data is no different than any other types of databases. It all depends on how it’s utilized and whether or not you trust the people maintaining it.

  22. Nasser says:

    I’m not quite sure how this would be invading my privacy. May someone please elaborate so I can understand what in the world everyone is talking about?

    • Matt says:

      If your DNA shows a propensity for certain hereditary traits, you could be excluded from employment or health and life insurance.

  23. Buzfairy says:

    I agree with Mark on this. This is a huge invasion of privacy. Using it to deter criminals or terrorists is not a valid argument to mandate this on everyone.

    • meh says:

      I see you let your privacy be invaded when you let them take your fingerprints to claim residency/citizenship.

  24. Guss says:

    DNA database will of course be used by U.S. Or/and ECC and who knows who else will have access

    As long as my DNA can’t be hacked or duplicated I’m ok with the test

    • Inkuwait says:

      Well if your PC, phone… And many other aspects of your life are wide open for hacking, there’s a fair chance this part will be too.

  25. simple_man says:

    I think this a a good and bad idea on the bad side expats who may show to be susceptible to diseases will be denied visas.

    On a good side all the maids who had to leave after being impregnated by Kuwaiti’s will now be able to have their children become Kuwait citizens get ready for a population boom government benefits for all! Most families will grow when they find out their neighbors are relatives.

    I say do it and let the Genes fall where they may, Maybe many families will find out they are related to some of the tribes or Israel and help bring Peace Love and Understanding to the region. Lets all get ready for a group “Kumbaya” sing along.

  26. Rehab says:

    I just feel someone is on a massive love child hunt!

  27. Nawaf says:

    Read the articles carefully on gizmodo, they are implementing it for security measures.

    Like all laws, everything is thrown out in open to get peoples reaction and see how well it is digested.

    Am guessing it’s also to resolve the bedouin issues in Kuwait once and for all.

    Besides most people are already violated as it is stands today it’s just a matter of you knowing it or not.

    Making a public statement is just a form of saying we warned you, it’s the law if you don’t abide to it’s no longer our problem.

    Some info from the web :

    How can DNA profiling solve crimes?
    There may only be a few drops of blood or a single hair left at the scene of a crime, but this is enough to get a DNA STR profile. Forensic scientists can compare the STR profile of a blood sample with that of a suspect or the victim, to look for a match. If two DNA profiles match there is only a one-in-a-billion chance that they are from two different people – unless they are identical twins.

    With DNA from over 5 million people on the police’s national DNA database, DNA profiling has proved to be a valuable tool for solving crimes. In England in 2010 your DNA profile is taken and stored if you are arrested, even if you are found not guilty. Some argue that the DNA database intrudes on people’s privacy and that sensitive genetic information could be misused. However, a decision by the European Court of Human Rights in 2009 led to a new law in England and Wales which will limit how long DNA and DNA profiles can be stored.

    I guess those who oppose can always petition to the Courts of the Human rights.

  28. PedroD says:

    DNA.. !! Meh Already did the 23andMe test a year ago Bring it…

    • inzain says:

      It’s not the same thing and the fact that you can’t tell shows how little you understand about this law and it’s potential impact on you and everyone else being tested.

  29. Eli says:

    Any idea how many local news sources reported this? I’m finding the lack of reporting on such a big move very strange.

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