"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Will the ACLU File Suit to Stop Privacy Gathering on Citizens' Physical Traits? Now the Government is Tracking Tattoos.

Will tattoo information appear on student data sets?  If a student has the wrong tattoo on his/her body, it may not bode well if FBI information is shared with the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services.  From next.gov:

The FBI is consulting local police and vendors about technology currently in use that can spot crooks and terrorists by interpreting the symbolism of their tattoos, according to government documents. The inquiry follows work already underway at the bureau and Homeland Security Department to add iris and facial recognition services to their respective fingerprint databases.

If tattoo data sets are added with other data to be gathered on public school students such as eye color, voting status, blood type and wage earnings, the government will have a plan on where your human capital will fit into the workforce or if he/she can be labelled a possible terrorist.  Where's the ACLU when you need them?

Privacy implications are only briefly addressed, in the context of policies regarding “what special guidelines will be followed when dealing with tattoos in ‘sensitive’ locations?” and other images that perhaps should not be in public records.

The bureau also wants to learn about vetting pictures, sharing access to the database; and ways for multiple agencies to coordinate on data gathering.  (MEW note: this is similar to DOEd plans to share educational information with various federal agencies and private researchers)

The basic concern of reliability isn't considered:
The request does not discuss the reliability of such systems. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame recently found that iris patterns alter with age and the accuracy of sensors used to capture iris images degrades over time, raising doubts about the use of that single physical trait to confirm identities.

If iris patterns alter with age, wouldn't student data entered based on student maturity and interests (as well as flawed assessments) be skewed as well?   The regulation to allow FERPA to gather invasive personal information from public education students and shared with other federal agencies has not been scrutinized for reliability either.  

Is this data the government so desperately wants for citizen tracking worth the price of liberty for the sake of the government's control of human capital?

Maybe the following information will be entered on your human capital's data set if he/she gets a tattoo and whether he/she is government compliant and a good "fit" for the workforce.  From timesofnews.com and the story of Chinese professional tennis player Li Na:

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