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Privacy Technology

To Counter Widespread Surveillance, Stealth Clothing 104

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-billion-dollars-apiece dept.
In Paul Theroux's dystopian novel O-Zone, wearing masks in public is simply a fact of life, because of the network of cameras that covers the inhabited parts of earth. Earthquake Retrofit writes with a story at the New York Times describing a life-imitating-art reaction to the perception (and reality) that cameras are watching more of your life than you might prefer: clothing that obscures your electronic presence. "[Adam Harvey] exhibited a number of his stealth-wear designs and prototypes in an art show this year in London. His work includes a series of hoodies and cloaks that use reflective, metallic fabric — like the kind used in protective gear for firefighters — that he has repurposed to reduce a person’s thermal footprint. In theory, this limits one’s visibility to aerial surveillance vehicles employing heat-imaging cameras to track people on the ground. He also developed a purse with extra-bright LEDs that can be activated when someone is taking unwanted pictures; the effect is to reduce an intrusive photograph to a washed-out blur. In addition, he created a guide for hairstyling and makeup application that might keep a camera from recognizing the person beneath the elaborate get-up. The technique is called CV Dazzle — a riff on 'computer vision' and 'dazzle,' a type of camouflage used during World War II to make it hard to detect the size and shape of warships."
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To Counter Widespread Surveillance, Stealth Clothing

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  • by auric_dude (610172) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @10:35AM (#44147255)
    Can't quite see it myself.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Can't quite see it myself.

      Me neither. All I see is a login screen.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just wear a dress like I do at weekends

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... and then you'll walk around with a cell phone? You've "chipped" yourself.

  • No masks in FL (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2013 @10:45AM (#44147317)

    In Florida and other states it is illegal to wear masks or otherwise conceal your identity while in public. This may have been a reaction to the KKK during the civil rights period.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Sunday June 30, 2013 @10:45AM (#44147321) Homepage Journal

    That's really going to go over well in August. Heat reflective clothing could be deadly.

    • That would be cool, wear a Fresnel lens and aim it at whatever weapon being used against you.

      They only come out at night [youtube.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hentes (2461350)

      It may be possible to create a fabric that doesn't let thermal radiation escape, but lets the air through so convection can cool the wearer. That would actually be worthy of an article.

      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Sunday June 30, 2013 @12:01PM (#44147671) Homepage Journal

        It may be possible to create a fabric that doesn't let thermal radiation escape, but lets the air through so convection can cool the wearer

        Cooling is the removal of heat. Your air conditioner blows hotter air out its exhaust than it blows cold inside. Either you'll be seen or will get rapidly hot.

        Firefighters' gear keeps the firefighters cooler than they would without it because the heat their bodies generate isn't as hot as the surrounding air. Too long in that gear and they suffer from heat exhaustion.

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          It's not the flow of heat that can be seen, only heat radiation. Which is not the only way to transfer heat. There's a huge difference between directly imaging a 36C hot body or only seeing the surrounding air being a couple degrees warmer. That's much harder to catch.

          Cooling is the removal of heat.

          Care to back your argument with more than tautologies?

          • by Chrontius (654879)
            Does evaporating sweat - water vapor with a predictable salinity with predictable organic contaminants - have a distinctive spectral profile?

            If so, throw a second (filtered or specialized - UV and broadband IR can both also defeat camouflage) camera on the surveillance platform and look for mismatches. Where you find an anomaly, you've probably just found someone trying to hide, and any half-decent program can automatically spot, mark, and flag for human review such anomalies.
            • Does evaporating sweat - water vapor with a predictable salinity with predictable organic contaminants - have a distinctive spectral profile?

              If salt is boiling I think you have more important things to worry about. Like who just nuked you.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          You may be seen but you won't be identified, which is the point. As long as the heat is vented in a way that obscures identifying details like facial features mass surveillance can't track you.

        • Radiation moves in straight lines. Warm air doesn't. The air will be at a lower temperature than the body it's cooling. Finally the air is diffuse and moving in a direction which is unlikely to be directly towards the sensor.

          Look at an A10 Warthog. It has turbofan engines, and they're placed where they are for a reason (and it's obviously not aesthetics).

      • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @12:35PM (#44147817) Homepage Journal

        It may be possible to create a fabric that doesn't let thermal radiation escape, but lets the air through so convection can cool the wearer. That would actually be worthy of an article.

        man, that would not only be worth of an article that would be worth of a nobel prize.

        (yes, you can create something that blocks radiation but still breathes, problem is that "breathing" air still shows up on the IR cam. I suppose it would be possible to have forced air cooling that would spread the heat far enough to not make a blip on the IR camera though)

        • by unrtst (777550)

          problem is that "breathing" air still shows up on the IR cam.

          I'm not disagreeing completely with your statement, but the mythbusters showed that simply holding up a bed sheet in front of you will hide you completely from a typical IR cam. Engineering normal-ish looking clothing that does the job would be quite a feat, but if we drop the simple convection limitation and add a small bottle of compressed coolant it'd be quite feasible.

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            Of course it does and there's a simple reason for that. What you've done is put up a wall of a different temperature between the subject and the camera. Was the camera sensitive enough to show what happened when the person let go of the sheet? Just holding the bed sheet leaves latent heat spots on the fabric which fade over a minute or two.

            The key here is that convection on one side prevented heat transfer onto the sheet. This doesn't happen with cloths. Well actually it does to some extent. Have you seen s

            • by unrtst (777550)

              Right, which is why I said it'd be quite a feat to make normal-ish looking clothing that would do it. If you had some outfit that had a bunch of sticks attached that held up sheets all around you about 2 ft away, that would probably do the job (assuming you left some nice overlapping gaps so air would still flow through), but you'd look like a walking tent and stand out in any crowd, if you could even fit in a crowd.

              Carrying a bottle of compressed coolant (ie. the heat exchange part done before you put it o

              • by thegarbz (1787294)

                You should look into forced cooling suits. Basically suits which run water hoses around inside them to take heat away from the wearer. We've used these underneath a spacesuit style chemical suit which are BLOODY HOT.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2013 @11:00AM (#44147385)

    His ideas seem practical - the IR cloaking and paparazzi-blinding ones, at least. But I think CCTV/Face Recognition is a problem that we should find a legislative solution for.

    We, as privacy-loving people, should be able to come up with a convincing argument that the cost of deploying such a network is greater than the benefit.

    We could then push to prevent the federation of wider networks (one network per police precinct, for example, so that police can still use them to prevent or prosecute crime, but noone could track movement over a whole city or whole country). Or, allow their use for investigation of crime after the fact, but not active monitoring: systems must be designed in a way that only lets them keep recordings for 48 hours and would not include any network connectivity equipment. If a crime occurs, police can go to the relevant camera and pull the tapes; otherwise, the camera dumbly continuously overwrites.

    The surveillance implementations of modern computers are a problem that needs to be addressed in as many was as possible. While legal limits are only as good as the will to enforce them, they are an important way to codify the moral problems created by cheap computers.

    As it is my pessimistic side thinks that the only way we'll have proper privacy protection is after a widespread systematic official program of surveillance against some group is revealed, and is proven to cause direct harm to that group's other basic rights and physical security. In other words, we'll only work to limit networked spy technology after it is abused, not before.

    • Simple rule based policy solutions (if the legal still system functions:)

      Abuse of rights severe enough make you immune from conviction. This has been eroding but works quite well.

      Proper rules regarding these new powers can curb their abuse. Say they do listen to everything you do; if they are never able to convict you on that evidence (inadmissible, no warrant) then they will still continue to do it but you will be protected to some degree. Obviously, more rules would be needed and no matter what one does

    • Someone suggested sewing infra-red LEDs into the brim of a baseball cap to throw off facial recognition / CCTV cameras.

      The bright light from your head will make you look like the Second Coming on footage, though. Plus, IR filters :-\
  • I assume this is here because they assumed geeks would find it cool to look like a fucking shadow runner, but if you show up wearing that horse shit at a job interview anywhere other than Hot Topic, don't expect a call back.
    • That's not unique to this goal though. Almost anything I see touted as "fashion" looks fucking ridiculous. Maybe that's a sampling error, as someone who ignores fashion intentionally, I maybe only see the weird shit.

      As far as job interviews, that's a weird standard. You wear a suit and tie or whatever it is women wear to job interviews. You hand someone a piece of paper with most of your identifying information on it. Stealth is not the goal there. You'd wear this stuff walking down the street to a
  • by AHuxley (892839) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @11:08AM (#44147421) Homepage Journal
    Draw attention to yourself with the most imaginative draft emails you can for your state, county, regions and wait.
    Save them with one of the big brand accounts - the ones that have been in the news.
    Suddenly take your cell battery out for hours. Save emails to the press as drafts and connect to at cafes in the CBD.
    Local Feature Analysis (LFA) will get your face in a country with the population the size of the USA in a very short time.
    If the CCTV cant get your face, you will noted and get to enjoy a nice random stop-and-frisk at an exit or park or street.
    Welcome to the new world of gait signature if that fails.
    http://rt.com/news/identify-walk-system-britain-668/ [rt.com]
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Welcome to the new world of gait signature if that fails.

      Easily foiled by randomly stabbing yourself in the leg every morning.

  • by Joshua Fan (1733100) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @11:16AM (#44147459) Homepage
    Now made fashionable.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Blue jeans, tee shirt, baseball cap, wrap around shades, short beard. You'll look like everyone else.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Blue jeans, tee shirt, baseball cap, wrap around shades, short beard. You'll look like everyone else.

      yeah. shades and beard actually foil automatic face recognition.

      much better than wearing a tinfoil coat anyways.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      then women in your town look funny

  • When you are invisible, you have to be extra cautious around traffic.
    The hoboroadie knows many things, for he walks by night. Mwahahahaha.

  • It will make somebody a bit of money though, because most people are clueless

  • In one of his books there is a special t-shirt that makes the wearer invisible to surveillance cameras.

  • I see the tin foil hats will be all the craze this fall.
  • ... a countermeasure for your countermeasure. Just try going out in public in your Trayvon Martin brand hoodie.

  • Dazzle on Warships (Score:5, Informative)

    by nukenerd (172703) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @03:39PM (#44148735)
    FTFA :- "'dazzle,' a type of camouflage used during World War II to make it hard to detect the size and shape of warships."

    It was first used in WW1; pink, black, white, and lime green in jagged stripes and patches, together with rigged canvas jagged shapes between the funnels and masts to try to confuse enemy optical rangefinders. Another trick was to paint the profile of a smaller ship on the side of a larger one.
  • Dear NSA,

    This is what you get when you think you know so much more and so much more deeply than Joe and Jane Average and feel like it's your privilege to unilaterally impose on them your secret interpretation of law ....and then they find out.

    If you had asked , if you had been forthright and made your case honestly in the court of public opinion, supposing that people were convinced by your reasoning, these kinds of problems wouldn't be burying on you now.

    In the event they weren't so convinced, then maybe t

  • Nothing gets you more attention than deliberately trying to hide yourself....
  • It is illegal to obscure your identity in a public place, because it is illegal to interfere with the investigation of a crime. Since almost all criminal investigations involve looking for a missing suspect, obscuring your identity prevents law enforcement determining whether you are the suspect, and therefore in doing so you are committing Obstruction of Justice.

    At least, that will be the government's reasoning in arresting people as "terrorists" who wear masks in public.

  • by smash (1351)
    He's turned tin foil into clothing now?
  • Does this clothing have optional RFID tagging or is it mandatory?
    • by kevinT (14723)

      The RFID tag will be applied at Walmart / Target / other store. The SWAT team will be notified automatically by the cash register and the video of your purchase will be uploaded to the "database" to be saved for eternity. They will then begin (if they haven't already) tracking your vehicle by its tag and all the license plate reading cameras located on every traffic light in the city.

      You have been warned, now wait to be arrested for "interfering" with the police by your actions!

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        The RFID tag will be applied at Walmart / Target / other store. The SWAT team will be notified automatically by the cash register and the video of your purchase will be uploaded to the "database" to be saved for eternity. They will then begin (if they haven't already) tracking your vehicle by its tag and all the license plate reading cameras located on every traffic light in the city.

        You have been warned, now wait to be arrested for "interfering" with the police by your actions!

        I'm a meat Popsicle.

  • I've read "To Counter Widespread Surveillance, Steal Clothing". Makes sense: if you enter in a phone booth with eyeglasses, hat and a dress, and you exit with your red underpants over your trousers, nobody will recognize you. If you enter in the phone booth and exit with a cape and a drawing of a stylized bat on the shirt, you'll be sure to totally confuse everybody.
  • I will sell anyone who'd like a space blanket and a sombrero. I will sign them in Sharpie for just a small surcharge.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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