All the data you can eat

Marked for life

Adam Oxford
Adam Oxford

The parental wisdom that “you’ll regret it when you’re older” has saved many a young teen from an ill-advised tattoo, and probably pushed millions more to the needle, but it turns out your mum and dad may have been right. The other EFF has released an update on its investigation into the use of automated tattoo recognition in the US, Tatt-C, which contained 15 000 images “mostly of prisoners”. The images were collated without the prisoners’ knowledge and used as a national challenge for image recognition.

Tattoos are also incredibly personal and often contain specific information and identifiers that could be used to track down a person even if their face and identity have been obscured. For example, even though the names of the inmates were removed from the Tatt-C metadata, the tattoos themselves sometimes contained personal information, such as life-like depictions of loved ones, names, and birth dates that all remain viewable to researchers.

(Image – CC Sarah-Rose)

Adam Oxford
  • Adam Oxford is a freelance journalist, media consultant and civic tech enthusiast. He also works closely with startups developing solutions to access to justice problems.

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