Got Tattoos? Gov't Could Soon Track You Down

Owl Tattoos
The government is learning to ID people based on their tattoos. (Flickr/Creative Commons)

The government is working on ways to identify people by their tattoos.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology hosted a challenge for groups to come up with the most accurate software and algorithms for identifying tattoos.

"The goal of the Tattoo Recognition Technology - Challenge (Tatt-C) is to advance research and development into automated image-based tattoo recognition technology. The challenge focuses on tattoo matching and retrieval from still images captured operationally by law enforcement agencies," the Institute's website said.

A computer scientist told the Washington Post the main reason the government wants the IDs is track down criminals.

But Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy & Technology, questions whether the law has caught up with how image recognition with tattoos could be used.

"People are being identified remotely without their knowledge—and right now the Fourth Amendment doesn't really say anything about that," Bedoya said.

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