scientists develop “privacy visor” to thwart facial recognition technology

by Tim Phillips

Law enforcement officials are increasingly using facial recognition software. It’s unclear how such technology will affect protest movements, but a study on the decreasing cost of computer data storage, published in December 2011, concluded as follows:

Within the next few years an important threshold will be crossed: For the first time ever, it will become technologically and financially feasible for authoritarian governments to record nearly everything that is said or done within their borders—every phone conversation, electronic message, social media interaction, the movements of nearly every person and vehicle, and video from every street corner.

Thankfully, in response to advances in facial recognition software, scientists at Tokyo’s National Institute of Informatics developed a “privacy visor.” According to today’s BBC article,

The glasses are equipped with a near-infrared light source, which confuses the software without affecting vision. … Heavy make-up or a mask will also work, as will tilting your head at a 15-degree angle, which fools the software into thinking you do not have a face, according to an online guide produced by hacktivist group Anonymous.

Related clothing options include the anti-drone hoodie and scarf, counter-surveillance fashion designed to block thermal imaging technology. As surveillance proliferates, there’s a proliferation of resistance.