The FBI has entered the app developer world with Child ID, a mobile app which stores information that could help find lost children.
Child ID is the first app from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced during an official "FBI This Week" podcast by Mollie Halpern and Michael Lilly at fbi.gov on Friday.
"Nearly 800,000 children go missing every year in America," said Halpern. "The FBI is launching a free smartphone application that can help in those first few critical hours after an abduction. The Child ID app enables users to electronically store their child’s photos and vital information. Parents can easily e-mail that information to law enforcement."
The app can be used as a convenient method to show photographs and vitals (height, weight, et cetera) to officers, or to send electronically (via a prominent email tab on the interface). Child ID can dial 911 for you, and can quickly get the information to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, the notification services (for an AMBER Alert, for instance), or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"You have a much better chance of recovering a child if you can get that information into the hands of law enforcement very quickly," FBI spokesman Michael Lilly
On the subject of privacy, both officials were very quick to make the point that the information was not being used as any sort of government database ("Rest assured—the FBI is not storing any information from the app," stated Lilly), and that agencies will only have access to items that users send when an incident occurs. "The information you load into the app is yours alone," said Halpern.
In addition to providing a 'wallet' with vital information and photos, the app is also a guidebook containing tips and a checklist on the subject of keeping children safe before an incident occurs, and what should be done during the all-important first hours after a child goes missing -- a situation that the Bureau both refers to as "unlikely" and also admits happens an average of every 40 seconds in the United States.
For the time being, the app is an iOS exclusive, but the FBI has every intention of porting it to other platforms.
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