The Sexy Way to Block Facial Recognition Tech

The Dark Android Project concentrates–most of the time–on a concept that I call: “DAPS”. It’s an acronym that stands for Decentralization, Anonymity, Privacy, and Security. I consider having these the cornerstones–and requirements to varying degrees–of being able to interact in our interconnected world with any semblance of freedom, from communications to commerce.

Probably the hardest of those four cornerstones to achieve is “anonymity”, especially in the Surveillance Society (remember, it’s not just a Surveillance State anymore). Consider it, even bathrooms have cameras and surveillance equipment like microphones all over the place. No? You don’t see people bringing their block of sensors..err…smartphones into the bathroom? Funny, I don’t remember seeing a “Leave Your Smartphone HERE” sign and bin at the entrance to restrooms. Frankly, I’ve often joked that restrooms should be called “Notification Checking Centers”.

But I’m getting off track. Bottom line, achieving a sense of anonymity (and thus being able to have real privacy, which leads to real security) is tough today. One of the more concerning aspects that keep you from achieving anonymity is facial recognition software, or FRS. Being able to recognize a person’s face from drones, cameras, or whichever technology used, you are easily recognizable and are certainly more capable of being tracked due to systems using FRS. And FRS has become significantly more accurate in the past few years than the more laughable capabilities it had throughout the early 2000’s.

Fortunately, as Francis Bacon said, for every action there is an equal or greater reaction, and the “crypto economy” (or System D, as I call it on my podcast Sovryn Tech) is already in action.

Enter PrivacyVisor from Japan’s National Institute of Informatics.

privacyvisorSexy as Hell, aren’t they (hopefully, for my sake, they come in black)? I also imagine it’d be easy enough to put in a pair of prescription lenses on these. Frankly, when these are finally released June of 2016, I’ll probably start wearing these nearly 24/7. Costing only $240 USD, I think that’s an inexpensive price for some serious anonymity. Granted, according to reports, it only fooled 90% of systems they were used against. But those are odds that work for me, especially when their design is so simple. And simple is good.

This kind of anti-surveillance accessories and apparel are becoming a bigger and bigger deal as time goes on since the Snowden Revelations. Hoodies that hide heat signatures from drones and other future fashions are either already made or on the way. And they’re important, if you consider anonymity, privacy, and security important. Personally, I do. Without anonymity, you can’t really have freedom of speech, because if people don’t feel comfortable, they’re likely not going to feel comfortable sharing everything that they want. Or if you are in a country that is run by a totalitarian regime (wait…every country is run by a totalitarian regime, including the USA), you won’t be able to do much peacefully about that regime if you don’t have anonymity.

Again, it’s important, and I hope this kind of apparel gets supported and continues to grow.

I also hope it continues to become more streamlined. The PrivacyVisor from the NII didn’t always look so sexy. Not so many years ago, they developed a pretty wild looking design that used near-infrared lights that would trick the FRS. Check out this video for an idea:

Interestingly, I wonder what the success rate was on those goggles. Perhaps they did better than the present PrivacyVisor‘s 90% success rate. Of course, there’s always battery life to consider when you are requiring lights to be operated, so maybe it’s all just as well that the infrared isn’t used. Also, they’re kinda blinding to look at. Either way, there may be developments that can come from the original idea.

I find it interesting, too, that this is coming out of Japan. A country that is known for making the most dystopian and apocalyptic anime and films. It’s a country that has been dealing with “hi-tech” society for far longer than most places in the world, so I don’t find it shocking that they are ahead of the curve of “what can happen”, and thus they’re jumping on creating PrivacyVisor.

Good. Because now I get to watch Akira and thwart FRS with my sleek new glasses, and appreciate the same culture for creating them. Sono choushi!

Carpe lucem!