What a week for the Fourth Amendment! In addition to pornoscans and gropesearches at airports nationwide, we now learn that the New York Police Department will take high-res pictures of arrestees’ irises no matter what the crime.

More on the science behind this biometric technology–a $500,000 gift from the Department of Homeland Security, which is really on a roll lately with the BRIGHT IDEAS:

The technology uses high-resolution images to identify unique patterns in the iris, the colored part of the eye. It is considered less intrusive than retinal scanning, which looks at patterns in the blood vessels in the back of the eye and can reveal information about a person’s health, raising privacy concerns.

The iris photos will be taken along with the standard mug shots and fingerprints, so arrestees will probably end up feeling like county fair livestock when they’re all done being processed. Once again, this is for any arrest, no matter how small. So stop stealing those Nehi soda pops from the bodega STAT, unless you want to get fingermugirised.

Iris photography is nothing new–banks have used it for more than a decade. It’s supposed to be less invasive than DNA collection and won’t hurt your eyes, because police say so. And it could stop terrorists somehow, some day, nobody’s sure when or how or why, but it definitely could.

The DHS seems to be on a kick with this stuff lately: they’re also checking out new machines that will read irises from several feet away, and plan on testing them out on illegal immigrants in southern Texas. And during the Bush Jr. administration, the military started scanning the irises of Iraqis as part of its “Give ’em Sweet Freedom” campaign, which comes with conditions.

To Prevent Escapes, Police Start Scanning Irises of Suspects |NY Times|