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Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has a new program for finding missing kids quickly, but is it worth risking their privacy?

A new online program from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is intended to help missing kids, but 10 Investigates looked into the tradeoff with their privacy.

TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office wants to help parents sign up for a new online program they say will save critical time if your child goes missing.

It’s called HCSO K.ID.

On Friday night, at the Florida State Fairgrounds, deputies set up a booth to take current photos of kids, get their fingerprints, and help parents register.

While parents keep the only copy of those prints, and they don’t go into the system, a lot of personal information does.

10 Investigates Courtney Robinson looked into how this program could potentially impacts your kid’s privacy.

"Being prepared is key. Most important thing," said Jody Ryerson.

Ryerson is currently a nanny. She spent 14 years as a preschool teacher. She says she’s never been in a situation where a child’s gone missing but likes the idea of having all information in one place online.

RELATED: Florida Senate moves forward with privacy protection bill

"If something happens, you don't have that on your mind, you're not able to think. It’s there and you can be like, I have this and go right online, and you have all the information, eye color, height, weight, and you're good to go. You’re under pressure. You can't think when you're under pressure,” she said.

In a video about the new program, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister says

"In those situations, the more law enforcement has about your child, the better."

Here’s how the K.ID program works: 

Parents or Guardians go online and enter their information, then their children's by providing detailed features, from physical aspects like birthmarks to social media handles to dental records and adding the most up-to-date photo.

You can also then get them fingerprinted. Fingerprints are optional and the sheriff’s office says only parents have the sole copy of those prints. The fingerprints of your child never go "in the system."

"It’s fast, easy and can help save valuable time in an emergency," said Chronister.

But 10 Investigates found with convenience comes a handoff with privacy.

Read the fine print.

In order to register, you have to acknowledge your child’s name and any of the information you give could be used "for any purpose in conducting investigations."

That information is part of a searchable index and doesn’t age out.


"It's an insurance policy, but sort of what's the premium that you're paying?" asked Sara Healy.

Healy has 3 children under the age of 10.

She says the program is not for her family.  She worries about the future and investigators having access to her childrens’ pictures and information.

The sheriff’s office reiterates it is all voluntary.

They say you can give as much information as you want, but they do need the basics: that photo, your child’s name, date of birth, height, weight, eye color and hair color.

RELATED: Florida House passes bill to expand police use of drones

Despite the prevalence of camera phones, they say the most time-consuming part of a missing child investigation can be finding an updated photo that is usable and they can get to the media and public quickly.

"The statistical likelihood of them being snatched off the street, versus the potentially compromising private, personal information being available to be misused, that trade-off, that’s not worth it for me,” said Healy.

The sheriff’s office says if you don’t want to participate then use this as a starting point now.

  • Have an update-to-date picture of your kid
  • Write down their DOB, height, weight, hair color, eye color
  • Keep it in a place that’s easily accessible

They say whether it’s online or you do it yourself you should update the profile once a year or with any major physical change.


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