New Delhi: A recently discovered FBI program takes the idea of mass surveillance to a scarier new level. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) found that the US agency is working with government researchers to create a software that uses something as mundane as a body tattoo to track the person inked with it.
The project, born in 2014, from an earlier initiative by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has been created with the aim of profiling citizens based on their tattoos to determine their affiliation to gangs, religious or ritualistic beliefs, or political ideology.
It also attempts to map connections between people with similarly themed tattoos or make inferences about people from their tattoos, The Next Web reports.
Documents obtained by the EFF further revealed that the researchers did not follow protocol for ethical research involving humans and failed to seek permission until after the first set of experiments were completed.
The researchers also failed to disclose that the data sets around tattoos were being used for additional experiments related to prisoners. According to federal guidelines, such research requires increased security and ethical oversight to prevent exploitative treatment of former inmates.
Although NIST has said that it will closely inspect the surveillance program, it has not given any indication of suspending the program or delay it till the time EFF is investigating the case.