FBI mulls how to build database of tattoos

The Federal Bureau of Investigations plans to create a tattoo database to augment its Biometric Center for Excellence (BCOE), which records information about fingerprints, DNA, voice, iris scans and other identification-related material.

Last week the agency issued a Request For Information seeking from academia, private industry and law enforcement agencies plans for the best way to build it.

Included in the RFI are queries about how information would be extracted from the database and if interpretations from gang experts and cryptanalysts should be included. Other areas of inquiry include privacy implications, policy and circumstances such as when tattoos are located in “sensitive” areas.

The RFI also includes technical questions about implementation, the size of the database, and how information will be extracted.

Implementing a tattoo database is part of the FBI’s Next General Identification program, a multi-year initiative to develop additional identification capabilities beyond BCOE, Information Week reported July 19.

The NGI program was launched in 2007 and the contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions.

Jerome Pender, deputy assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Service division, told a Senate subcommittee July 18 that three phases of the program are in development, reported InformationWeek.

Support for a database focused on scars, marks, and tattoos is scheduled for deployment in the summer of 2014.

Entities having tattoo databases that the FBI could potentially draw from include the Anti-Defamation League and GangInk, a national effort by ChicagoGangs.org and federal officials engaged in some cross-border screenings.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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Reader Comments

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 Jorja Kelly

Are they going to Scan the Tattoos and then asign a bar code to the scan. This would help with the sensitive areas. You would be able to use a scanner like they use in grocery stores. Just wonder since this would be bettery then trying to take a picture. I think then it would show if there was anotehr tattoo underneather the first one. Just wondering.

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