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A Chicago artist has created a cheap, effective way for the public to fight back against the growing profusion of security cameras – rubber masks which make the devices unable to identify people by making everyone look the same.
The URME device works very simply – everyone who wears the mask has the face of creator Leo Selvaggio, so biometric software is fooled into thinking the streets are filled with copies of the same person, according to CNET.
CNET describes concept images of same-faced clones walking together as “like Matrix 3.” Selvaggio says, “I have an overwhelming urge to protect the public from such surveillance. Everyone has a right to privacy.”
Selvaggio says, “Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub. We don’t believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn’t have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public.”
Selvaggio says, “URME represents artist-driven, anti-surveillance devices made for the public. As such, all our products are sold at cost. This means that there is no profit made in selling these products. All proceeds are used to sustain our ability to provide you with services. We believe everyone should be able to afford protection from surveillance.”
The product is made from a 3D scan of Selvaggio’s face, 3D-printed over a mesh by That’s My Face. The company seems to share URME’s libertarian views: they also sell a 3D action figure of Edward Snowden.
Speaking to We Live Security last week, Phil Zimmermann, inventor of the popular email encryption service PGP said, “We are living in a golden age of surveillance.”
Concern has grown over companies’ such as Facebook’s use of biometric data. Facebook has invested heavily in artificial intelligence software – which can recognize if two human faces are the same person with near-human accuracy.
One AI company, Vicarious Software, bought by Facebook, whose software specialises in “deciphering” photographs, described its software as “like a human that doesn’t have to eat or sleep.”
Further We Live Security reports relating to wider privacy issues can be found here.
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security