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FBI accelerates the search for missing children with ‘FBI Child ID’ app

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Titled the FBI Child ID app for the iPhone, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched their first app today to help parents speed up the process of contacting the authorities in the event that a child goes missing. The app requires a mobile device with a camera and is compatible with the iPhone, iPad 2 and iPod Touch. The moment that a child vanishes, the parent can open the app and tap a couple buttons to contact the FBI, 911 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

FBI-missing-child-app-informationParents have to document vital stats about their child including height, weight, name, nicknames, ethnicity, date of birth, home address and a variety of other important information that assist police in locating the lost child. Parents also take a photo of the child with the mobile device and send that along with the stats. The FBI plans to add support for using pictures stored on the device, thus allowing parents to use photos taken with another camera and sent to the mobile device via email or a direct transfer. The app also contains tips about the best steps that a parent can take after losing a child.

The FBI stressed that data about the child isn’t stored by the organization or Apple. The only way information about the child can be viewed by the FBI is if the user of the application sends it. Beyond the iPhone, the FBI has plans to bring the application to other mobile devices including Android and BlackBerry phones. Another likely step with the application would be sending GPS data when parents transfer data to help local police forces locate the user of the app. Early criticism on the Apple App Store focuses on the lack of password protection on the app. Without password protection, it’s possible that a child’s data could mistakenly or maliciously be sent to the FBI resulting in a false police report.