This article will talk about how Tattoo Recognition Technology can impact your freedoms and rights.
Tattoos have always been used to identify people, including suspects of crimes. A tattoo really is a distinguishing feature on a body and while you probably aren’t the only person out there with Pearl Jam’s stickman, a tattoo can definitely narrow you down in a pool of people. Now, this shouldn’t really matter to you if you aren’t committing crimes, but you should be aware of a new technology being used by law enforcement called Tattoo Recognition Technology.
How does it work?
Tattoo Recognition Technology started from a joint forces task force in the U.S., where they performed experiments to detect algorithms in the tattooed population. Five different tests were performed and include:
- Tattoo detection – declaring if an image has a tattoo in it
- Tattoo identification – using a tattoo to identify who a person is (much like a fingerprint)
- Region of interest – figuring out if a piece of a tattoo can be attributed to a larger tattoo
- Mixed media – doing a sketch of a tattoo as described by a witness
- Tattoo similarity – matching tattoos to a population of people with similar beliefs
As a law-abiding citizen, you may think that tattoo recognition technology can be highly valuable to law enforcement. It will be easier to identify suspects even if just a part of a tattoo is showing during the performance of a crime or on a surveillance video. Criminals including rapists, robbers, child molesters and more could be identified much easier based on the description of a tattoo.
Consequences of the technology
But, there are some downfalls for even those of us who aren’t criminals with this new technology. The tattoo similarity feature of this technology essentially lumps groups of people with similar tattoos into one broad category. This could also be seen as stereotyping, typecasting or profiling and that can be dangerous. Certain groups, including religious groups could be typecast based on their membership into that group. As well, a tattoo may have meaning for one group, but not for another, even with the exact symbol. For example, it was discovered that pedophiles share various symbols, which can be just regular symbols like hearts and butterflies. Law enforcement may be led to believe that someone who unknowingly has one of these symbols tattooed on their bodies is a child molester.
Others believe that this technology threatens free speech and privacy. Because the technology reveals a person’s cultural, religious and political beliefs, people who may not have committed a crime may have their privacy rights offended. Opponents believe that law enforcement could use this technology to single out individuals based on their beliefs and create a religious, political or cultural profile based on the tattoo.
At the moment, this technology is under evaluation and improvements still need to be made to ensure complete accuracy.