Millions of people have taken to the streets worldwide to protest the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month.
The protesters have faced both unprecedented police violence and surveillance. This week, the Justice Department authorized the Drug Enforcement Administration, an agency generally enforcing federal drug-related laws, to “covert surveillance” on civilians as part of the government’s efforts to prevent protests . As one of the most tech-savvy government agencies, it has access to billions of domestic phone records, cell site simulators, and, like many other federal agencies, facial recognition technology.
It is because of this intense surveillance that protesters fear they may face retaliation.
But over the past week, developers have raced to build apps and tools that allow protesters to clear hidden metadata from their photos, and masks to prevent facial recognition systems from recognizing protesters or Stain.
Everest Pipkin has created a web app that strips images of their metadata and allows users to completely blur the face – or completely blur the mask, thereby reverse staining for neural networks it happens. The web app runs entirely in the browser and does not upload or store any data. They have also open-source the code, allowing anyone to download and run the app on their own offline device.
Pipkin is one of the few developers who have run to help protesters protect their privacy.
“Sam Lausanne told TipsClear,” saw a bunch of discourse about how law enforcement has collected videos of protests from social media to identify protesters. He created Censr, a virtual reality app that works on the iPhone XR and later, which masks and pixels photos in real-time.
The app also scrubs images of metadata, making it more difficult to identify the source and location of the masked image. Loeschen said it was a “really easy weekend project.” It is currently in beta
Noah Conak has created an iPhone shortcut that uses Amazon’s facial recognition system and automatically blurs any face it detects. Conak said in a tweet that there was no way to blur images on the device but he does not save the image.
The idea is smart, but it means that any photo uploaded can be obtained theoretically (and if archived) by law enforcement with a legal order. You also need to allow “untrusted shortcuts”, which can open the door for potentially malicious shortcuts. Know the risks before allowing untrusted shortcuts, and disable it when you don’t need it.
Helping protesters and others and anonymizing photos is an idea that is taking over.
This week, the end-to-end encrypted messaging app Signal included its own photo blurring feature, which won’t be enough soon as its user base thanks to mass adoption ever since the protests began.
Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike said in a blog post that the move was to help “support all on the streets”, including protesters in the US and around the world, in many cases defying social distance rules by governments The spread was slowed down. Of the coronovirus epidemic.
“One immediate thing seems obvious: 2020 is a very good year to cover your face,” Marlinspike said.