The advent of facial recognition technology carried with it the promise of great benefits, especially for law enforcement who use facial recognition to detect and catch criminals, track transactions at ATMs, and find missing children. It also helped protect data and unlock phones, organized our massive photo collections by matching names with faces, etc. But the notion of an increasingly surveilled population suggests to many the slow erosion of our privacy. Concerns have been raised about the consequences of misidentification, especially in situations involving serious crime.
Researchers developed a program that helps individuals fend off programs that could appropriate their images without their permission and identify them in massive database pools.
Their technology, named Fawkes, makes subtle pixel-level alterations on images that, while invisible to the naked eye, distort the image enough so that it cannot be utilized by online image scrapers.
“What we are doing is using the cloaked photo in essence like a Trojan Horse, to corrupt unauthorized models,” Fawkes co-creator Ben Zhao, a computer science professor at the University of Chicago, said.
The researchers say Fawkes has stumped generally benign facial recognition systems used by Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. Although Fawkes can successfully thwart Clearview AI recognition as well, its developers say they were not even aware of the program when they began their research, according to techxplore.com.
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