The FBI’s new app collecting kids’ information isn’t at all suspicious

Seems great to me!

FBI agent wearing FBI uniform, part of
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Kids can get lost anywhere at anytime. Just ask my mom about when I wandered away from her at the Mall of America. And in the event of a lost kid, you want to have updated pictures and basic information ready to go. That’s why, I guess, the FBI has developed a new not-at-all-suspicious app to keep all your child’s information handy. Because apparently, somebody forgot that smartphones can do all of that already.

On Tuesday, the FBI announced its new Child ID app, which the agency describes as a “convenient place” to keep photos and other vital information. With the app, you’re able to show law enforcement pictures at a moments notice and provide physical identifiers like a kid’s height or weight.

This is the FBI’s first foray in to developing apps, and it shows. Because again: These are all things that you can accomplish with your phone’s preloaded photo gallery and notes app already. But hey! The FBI’s app comes with a password protection feature — which your phone totally doesn’t already also have, right? — and a special tab to easily contact authorities.

I’m a Black Muslim convert with a history of political organizing, so I can assume I’m on some watchlists already. That means I have no problem downloading the app and giving it a quick peek so the rest of you don’t have to.

When opened, the app prompts you to “add a child” by including their full name, nicknames, home address, and biometric information like their ethnicity, height, and weight. Each child can have up to five photos that you either take in the app itself or download from your phone’s gallery. The app also asks guardians to include their own name, phone number, and address.

All of this seems like pretty innocent information to gather. But jokes about the app’s concept aside, who is going to willingly provide any federal agency, much less the FBI, with a child’s biometric information? It’s not like law enforcement has a spectacular record when it comes to handling this kind of stuff. Remember that illegal database of juvenile fingerprints kept by the NYPD? Or when the same department gave a 12-year-old a soda, then used his straw to get his DNA and insert it into the city’s genetic database?

You might be thinking, “But that was the NYPD!” And according to the FBI’s own press release, the agency isn’t going to collect or store any photos or information from the app. And the FBI has never omitted the truth or outright lied before — especially not about surveillance.

If you’re out here trusting the FBI in 2022, that’s on you. Wanna throw them information for free? I literally cannot stop you. Me, though? I’m gonna make the federal government at least put in a little effort to collect biometric information about me and mines.