The FBI has started collecting information from academia, private industry and law enforcement agencies with the goal of creating a tattoo database to augment its collection of biometric data. The bureau’s biometric clearinghouse, known as the Biometric Center for Excellence (BCOE), builds databases and tools related to fingerprints, DNA and iris scans.

The FBI distributed a request for information last week to start gathering information about the technical and qualitative nature of the tattoo databases it intends to draw from. Some of the questions included in the request are: “How is information extracted from the database?” and “Are experts (gang experts, cryptanalysts) elicited to incorporate possible meanings?”

The document doesn’t explain exactly how the information will be used, although many people from Latin America have been denied green cards into the U.S. because of their tattoos, The Wall Street Journal reported. The system presumably would be useful for identifying gang members by their gang tattoos. However, the document referenced the BCOE’s mission in broad terms, which could indicate possible uses of the tattoo database. “The BCOE is providing enhanced U.S. government services in the global quest to fight crime and terrorism with state-of-the-art biometrics technology,” the document stated.