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This brings up something I've been wondering about for a while, the legality of masks and other devices for identity protection. Supposedly due to protests and anon activity I have heard of an increasingly push to make publicly wearing masks illegal, but I think it's a slippery slope to go down. If in a few years time I have to assume that if I'm in public my face is being input into recognition systems, why should I not have the right to wear a mask or something similar?

Of course the knee-jerk argument is that wearing masks (both digitally in offline) creates a different personality which is more willing to engage in illegal activity, but for me, a staunch Constitutionalist, that still doesn't justify making it illegal.

This is, at the bottom line, about the reduction of anonymity equally in the real world as in the digital.

One more tool of control in the belt of the oligarchy.




I'm a researcher at a face recognition company. A big pair of dark sunglasses still does a pretty good job of obscuring your identity (although obviously not as good as a mask). Adding a hat with a brim pulled low helps out even more.


Don't forget that NIR cameras (often used for iris recognition) can still see through those glasses. But i agree, stuff similar to the challenges in the AR face dataset [1] will usually stump most employed systems.

[1] http://www2.ece.ohio-state.edu/~aleix/ARdatabase.html


True although the commercial deployment of NIR face recognition isn't that extensive (I'm not saying it doesn't exist however). I know for our company's software that academics have been trying to use it with NIR images even though our software wasn't trained at all for it.

I do think that NIR will eventually become more important (especially for car applications) and really the main stumbling block is massive sets of training data for it.


Yea the NIR wavelength makes the skin lose a lot of discrimination ability. Don't know how familiar you are with the FOCS, SCFace, or PolyU datasets, but they're a good start for training (of course very few papers use them, they'd rather gain an extra 0.1% on LFW).


What about mirror shades?


> This brings up something I've been wondering about for a while, the legality of masks and other devices for identity protection.

Canada just recently criminalised the act of wearing a mask at a protest. 10 years maximum sentence. For wearing a mask. Seriously! (Nice democracy they've got goin' up there.)


In my town, street performers cannot wear masks. It was originally created as a law to help arrest KKK demonstrators here in the south. But yeah, I wouldn't get too high-falutin' at the expense of Canadian democracies. Granted, we did drop the case against Spider-Man...

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/knoxville-drops-spider-mans-mas...


What about viruses?


CV Dazzle [1] was an art project for confusing and evading facial recognition software algorithms, inspired by the WWI / WWII camouflage designs [2] ~

[1] http://cvdazzle.com

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzle_camouflage


First, if it is illegal then we should work at getting the law changed.

Wear a surgical mask, that seems acceptable in this day and age.


>if it is illegal then we should work at getting the law changed

It seems like most of the privacy issues at hand today are already against the law -- the problem is enforcement.


What about antivirus/pathogen masks?


The problem is by then it might be too late to fight it. They'll get so used to identifying everyone in real time at all times, that someone wearing a mask or trying to hide from the "system" in any way will look very suspicious and will need further tracking through other means. And the government from the police to the FBI will get very used to it because "how could ever catch the child kidnappers without that ability?!"


> The problem is by then it might be too late to fight it.

It is never too late to fight something. Everything changes with time. It might be too late for an easy victory but if you study how things change and evolve over decades you'll see that's just a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many things that people say are "inevitable" have failed and many existing trends get reversed. For a couple of recent technological ones just look at the failing of the "inevitable" SOPA, the Comcast and Time Warner merger, and net neutrality actually becoming the regulation instead of being destroyed.

If you believe you can change something you often can, if you don't believe you can change it then you definitely won't.


Isn't it better to work on having a government you can trust rather than fooling yourself by building a castle made of sand in the path of an incoming tide?


Why not both?

We should retain the right to conceal our identity in reasonable ways and governments should enact laws that protect their citizens privacy from biometric recognition technologies.


>Why not both?

Reality. Information leaks all over the place, trying to legislate your way to privacy is like trying to bail out a boat with a fishing net. Public information is by definition public, so we could all walk around with wide brimmed hats and masks or we could be realistic about the challenges ahead.


What? With that attitude do you not believe in regulating anything? No laws are perfect but that's not a valid argument against having them.

There's a big difference in a company legally operating a facial tracking system and a company illegally operating one.

In the case of the illegal one they have to hide it, it's much harder to profit from and thus would be less widespread. In the case of the legal one they can freely advertise their services and easily setup their system anywhere that local governments don't create hurdles.


You can make all the foolish laws you like and there will still be data and cameras everywhere in public places. Where the data comes from is irrelevant, it will be available.

Edit: Are you going to ban cameras in public places? Facebook? Cellphones? Satellites?


Due to the very nature of government, I don't believe it is possible to have a government that I completely trust.

There are different degrees of trust though, and I would like one with a higher degree of trust earned.


Your fooling yourself if you think you can ever trust government....


What does that even look like? It seems like a stretch to believe that we can create a government that we'll always be able to trust.


A government I can trust can get voted out of office tomorrow.


True. Also one man's trusted gov is another's opposition. Accountability would have been a better word.




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