Image credit - elmimmo

Image credit – elmimmo @ Flickr

It is no secret that there are still many out there who associate tattoos with criminals. After all there are many good examples of how certain gangs use tattoos to identify their members, or like how certain tattoo designs are meant to symbolize acts of crime. Law enforcement has long relied on databases and books of photos to identify tattoos on criminals.

However it looks like the days of poring over books will no longer be necessary as the FBI is building an AI tattoo tracking tool to help identify criminals. This tool has been in development since 2014 and the FBI is working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to accomplish that.

With this tool, it would be able to automatically identify and associate criminals as being part of a particular gang. While it does sound rather efficient, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) thinks that it could violate First Amendment rights, as tattoos are considered by many to be a form of speech.

Plus there are concerns that such a system might not take into context certain designs or why people get them. For example someone with a criminal past might have criminal/gang-related designs, but maybe that was from 20 years ago and they have lived a clean and crime-free life since. That being said, the first trial run consisting of 15,000 images has been completed, and there are now plans to begin the next phase that will see 100,000 photos pulled from correctional facilities across Florida, Michigan, and Tennessee.

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