One of the easiest ways to identify certain people is by their tattoo. Various crime organizations, most notably the Yakuza, use tattoos as a calling card. Others just get tattoos out of self expression. The FBI doesn’t care why you got it – they just want to store it in a massive database.
On Friday, the FBI sent out a request for information on any existing tattoo databases. The idea here is that they want to collect the information from local law enforcement to create a giant database of tattoos and what they mean. Specifically, the FBI is interested in a tattoo’s “possible meanings, gang affiliations, terrorist groups or other criminal organizations.”
The program is part of a larger operation from the FBI that is wanting to use biometrics to identity potential criminals. The FBI wants the technology to identify threats only through “voice and face recognition, handwriting, palmprints, scars, marks and tattoos.” It seems pretty reasonable considering that a lot of these things do help identify criminals. So what’s the big deal with the FBI wanting to create a database of tattoos?
Mashable repots that many immigrant communities are skeptical about the program and think it’s just a way to deport innocent civilians. It also raises a lot of civil liberty questions as such a program can lead to profiling – racial or otherwise.
Of course, this reeks of what we’ve been hearing about the NSA lately and their reportedly massive domestic spying program. The FBI could use biometrics information in a similar way to keep tabs on not just criminals, but everybody else.
Besides, if the FBI wants to target me with a tattoo, there are a multitude of ways around it. One of the easiest is to just warp your skin through weight gain or other methods that makes the tattoo ever so slightly different. The idea of creating an entire database centered around tattoos, which are easily susceptible to change, is all kinds of ridiculous.