The Fingerprint Scanner You Don't Want on Your Smartphone

Johan Swanepoel/

The FBI plans to offer agents smartphone apps for checking a suspect's biometric data against information in criminal records.

The FBI plans to offer agents smartphone apps for taking a suspect's fingerprints on the streets and has obtained permission to test the technology on Android-based devices.

This is not your typical iTouch or Google Play game. Contracting documents hint that the the tool might use other biometrics -- such as facial recognition -- to identify offenders. 

"The FBI intends to offer its users the ability to perform a biometric query on an individual and receive a response by submitting, at a minimum, fingerprints via a smart phone application from any domestic location with cellular service," states an industry survey

In January, the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which maintains criminal records databases, received the green light to proceed with a year-long project that will winnow down technical specifications, according to the documents. 

"The objective of this project is to evaluate current software application solutions commercially available for biometric capture on cellular devices compatible with the Android Platform," bureau officials said.  

The documents, released on Tuesday, do not state when the project will start. App developers have until May 28 to respond to the survey, which asks basic questions about security concerns and product benefits.

Each vendor picked for the project is expected to receive $500,000 for their efforts. 

There is no word on where the project will be fielded.

(Image via Johan Swanepoel/