The National Security Agency revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden have produced a cottage industry of companies providing technological innovations that seek to defeat the NSA surveillance state.
The bulk of this effort is focused on encryption services that secure all manners of online communications from the NSA’s prying eyes. But what about privacy in the non-virtual world?
Brooklyn artist Adam Harvey has developed a low-tech solution to protect your privacy—fashioned even before the Snowden revelations—using makeup and hairstyles he says could defeat facial-recognition machines. Privacy enthusiasts must be willing to look like Marilyn Manson or a rocker from Kiss, but this method just might make you safe from the facial-recognition technology that is being embraced by everything from sports stadiums to the FBI.
Harvey, who has also created some counter-surveillance garments, calls the facial-recognition project “CV Dazzle”—developed as a master’s project at New York University. He writes:
CV Dazzle is a form of expressive interference that takes the form of makeup and hair styling (or other modifications). The name is derived from CV, a common abbreviation for computer vision, and Dazzle a type of camouflage used during WWI. Dazzle camouflage was originally used to break apart the gestalt image of warships, confusing observers about their directionality, size, and orientation. Likewise, the goal of CV Dazzle is to break apart the gestalt of a face, or object, and make it undetectable to computer vision algorithms, in particular face detection.
His website, which has a Creative Commons license, also comes with two downloadable “test patterns” for stylists.
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