A new investigation has revealed that the FBI is developing tattoo recognition technology which would sort and identify people based on their ink.
Tattoos have long been one way to stand out in a crowd, though getting inked may soon come with an unforeseen consequence: a new report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation has revealed that the FBI is working with US government researchers to develop tattoo recognition technology.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (or EFF) has reported that American law enforcement wants to employ such technology to analyze tattoos that “œcontain intelligence, messages, meaning and motivation.“ Read: “˜Tech Tats‘: the real future of wearable technology?
The research surrounding tattoo recognition technology began in 2014 under the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), using a database of prisoner’s tattoos. The technology was pioneered with the goal of “map(ping) connections between people with similarly themed tattoos or making inferences about people from their tattoos”
The EFF has further discovered that project researchers ignored basic governmental research standards, and sought permission from supervisors only once the groundwork for the project had been completed and didn’t disclose that the initial data they obtained originated from prisoners or arrestees.
With one in five adults in the United States bearing a tattoo, the FBI could make use of tattoo recognition technology to create an intelligence-driven program which could assign value to different tattoo designs; the end goal of which could be used to identify affiliation to different gangs, sub-cultures, or more worryingly, political ideology.
The EFF has called for the research to be suspended due to multiple violations of typical government research practices. Read: The FBI could be able to access an iPhone without Apple
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Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation