The New York Times reports on yet more government databases with information on individuals, such as one including descriptions of tattoos:
The tattoo database is one of dozens kept by the Police Department in its technological information hub, the Real Time Crime Center, to jump-start criminal investigations by giving detectives more to go on than a person’s height and weight.
Aside from arrest data and the tattoo database, the center, which was created in 2005, breaks down information in all sorts of ways. There is a database for body marks, like birthmarks and scars. It keeps track of teeth, noting missing ones and gold ones. It keeps track of the way people walk: if there is a limp, it notes its severity. And it has a so-called blotchy database, of skin conditions.
The databases are fed, in part, by arrest reports; officers are instructed to take detailed notes and enter them into a computer program that moves the information to a large server. […]
The center was created by the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, as part of an effort to centralize the department’s information. The databases pull from 911 calls, arrests, complaints filed by victims, reports on accidents and moving violations. Detectives at the center mine these databases for nuggets of information that they send to officers on the street. […]
The Police Department does not keep arrest reports when criminal cases have been dropped, said Paul. J. Browne, its chief spokesman. Nevertheless, the use of such databases has raised some questions about whether the department tracks too much information.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, for example, has criticized the department’s use of technology to collect data on people, regardless of their backgrounds. It has, for instance, questioned how the department handles images picked up by surveillance cameras and how that information is cataloged and stored.