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Anti-Surveillance Mask Lets You Pass As Someone Else 196

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-thik-I've-seen-you-before dept.
SonicSpike (242293) points out this article about a mask that can foil surveillance cameras and provide fuel for nightmares. "If the world starts looking like a scene from Matrix 3 where everyone has Agent Smith's face, you can thank Leo Selvaggio. His rubber mask aimed at foiling surveillance cameras features his visage, and if he has his way, plenty of people will be sporting the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic in public. It's one of three products made by the Chicago-based artist's URME Surveillance, a venture dedicated to 'protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities.' 'Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub,' reads the URME (pronounced U R Me) site. '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.'"
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Anti-Surveillance Mask Lets You Pass As Someone Else

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  • by mlookaba (2802163) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:39AM (#46972865)
    Wearing a mask in public is already considered "probable cause" for detain and search. While I agree with the reasons, this product will go nowhere except Halloween parties.
    • by BilI_the_Engineer (3618871) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:51AM (#46972947)

      Isn't it funny (or sad) how the government is increasingly using mass surveillance in public places, and yet when you attempt to thwart their efforts at tracking you by doing something as simple as wearing a mask, it's illegal?

      The "land of the free and the home of the brave" has many places that ban the act of wearing masks in public places. Free? Brave? To drones, maybe.

      • by RNLockwood (224353) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:27AM (#46973171) Homepage

        California has had a mask law on the books long before photo recognition, CCTV, etc. The purpose was to attempt to prevent masked people on the streets as this was (reasonably IMHO) seen as a probable precursor to some sort of in-your-face crime.

        • by BilI_the_Engineer (3618871) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:33AM (#46973221)

          California has had a mask law on the books long before photo recognition, CCTV, etc.

          When the laws were created is irrelevant to the reality that protecting your privacy is made impossible in many places by government thugs.

          reasonably IMHO

          Again? [slashdot.org]

          Come on. I shouldn't have to tell people in "the land of the free" that banning things like this merely because criminals could abuse them is disgusting. Even if the safety is real, it's not something any truly free country would do, just like we shouldn't have the TSA, the NSA mass surveillance, or any of the other nonsense that's happening right now.

          What's with all these people who claim to want a free country, and yet support policies that take us in the opposite direction? It's just an eyesore.

          • by Baloroth (2370816) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:50PM (#46973685)

            When the laws were created is irrelevant to the reality that protecting your privacy is made impossible in many places by government thugs.

            Wearing masks in public is not a protection of your privacy: you're in *public*: everyone can see you, and what you are doing. That's part of the whole concept of a public place. No, wearing masks preserves *anonymity*, which is different from privacy. As is, you have and should have limited rights to privacy in public (can't force people not to look at you, for example). You have no right whatsoever to anonymity in public.

            • by BilI_the_Engineer (3618871) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:18PM (#46973849)

              Actually, it provides privacy from mass public surveillance. There are different kinds of privacy, and some (i.e. privacy from having people take upskirt pictures) exist even in public places.

              And this is about the government, not random people looking at you.

              You have no right whatsoever to anonymity in public.

              Anyone who tries to say I shouldn't is an authoritarian scumbag.

              This is supposed to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave," so you can damn well bet I'm going to claim such a right.

              • Well, if they ban these masks, guess they better ban Burqas too. Or neither. But I'm sure that will never happen in the US. It's surprising that France did.
            • by mysidia (191772)

              You have no right whatsoever to anonymity in public.

              That might be true. But, you have a right to the liberty to decide what parts of your body you will reveal in public, and which parts you will keep private.

              The "no masks" rule, is essentially a clothing ban.

              Nobody has a right to require, order, or force a citizen to remove an article of clothing in public; particularly not clothing worn for protection, or as a political message protected under the first amendment, or as worn for a religious or medica

            • When the laws were created is irrelevant to the reality that protecting your privacy is made impossible in many places by government thugs.

              Wearing masks in public is not a protection of your privacy: you're in *public*: everyone can see you, and what you are doing. That's part of the whole concept of a public place. No, wearing masks preserves *anonymity*, which is different from privacy. As is, you have and should have limited rights to privacy in public (can't force people not to look at you, for example). You have no right whatsoever to anonymity in public.

              You are absolutely correct. There is no way to force people not to look at you in public. But, that doesn't make you less of an asshole for constantly doing so against the wishes of other people. Dammit, this argument is weak, weak, weak!!!

          • California has had a mask law on the books long before photo recognition, CCTV, etc.

            When the laws were created is irrelevant to the reality that protecting your privacy is made impossible in many places by government thugs.

            reasonably IMHO

            Again? [slashdot.org]

            Come on. I shouldn't have to tell people in "the land of the free" that banning things like this merely because criminals could abuse them is disgusting. Even if the safety is real, it's not something any truly free country would do, just like we shouldn't have the TSA, the NSA mass surveillance, or any of the other nonsense that's happening right now.

            What's with all these people who claim to want a free country, and yet support policies that take us in the opposite direction? It's just an eyesore.

            I live in a cold climate (winters have 20 below temps and often -40 below). I need the mask to shield my face from the wind.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          The first mask laws were about 100 years ago against the KKK
          • The first mask laws were about 100 years ago against the KKK

            So....... if you don't support a ban against masks, then you must be a racist? *ducks*

        • by Lord Kano (13027)

          Lots of places have had such laws for decades.

          They were often used against the KKK. If they wanted to march, they had to do it without masks.

          LK

        • "in your face crime?" LOL unintentional puns are the funniest
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          California has had a mask law on the books long before photo recognition, CCTV, etc

          Go read the law. (emphasis added)

          CALIFORNIA Penal Code Section 182-185
          185. Section One Hundred and Eighty-five. It shall be unlawful for any person to wear any mask, false whiskers, or any personal disguise (whether complete or partial) for the purpose of: One--Evading or escaping discovery, recognition, or identification in the commission of any public offense. Two--Concealment, flight, or escape, when charged with, arrested

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            Wait until some enterprising idiot uses one of these masks to rob banks and convenient stores. Then all the sudden, everyone using them will be suspect.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        and yet when you attempt to thwart their efforts at tracking you by doing something as simple as wearing a mask, it's illegal?

        First do research as to why wearing masks is illegal in many US states, and then spout your opinions.

      • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:31AM (#46973197)

        ...something as simple as wearing a mask, it's illegal?

        You can thank the Klan for that in many places. Are you in favor of rolling back the anti-Klan laws?

        The "land of the free and the home of the brave" has many places that ban the act of wearing masks in public places. Free? Brave? To drones, maybe.

        Blacks, Jews, and Catholics do live more freely since few in the Klan were brave enough to make their allegiance known openly and commit their foul deeds without anonymity. Do you resent that? Do you think that America is less free or brave because the Klan finds it more difficult to hide itself to harass or kill blacks, Jews, and Catholics?

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          So what do Muslims who want to wear a burka do? Genuine question, I feel they shouldn't be allowed in public, but as far as I'm aware only France has banned them and they are generally allowed in the US. I must admit I'm not an expert on US local laws though.

        • by blindseer (891256) <blindseer@Nospam.earthlink.net> on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:15PM (#46975147)

          Are you in favor of rolling back the anti-Klan laws?

          Yes. So long as it also means rolling back the anti-self defense laws.

          The KKK got away with what they did by first disarming their victims. Those laws come primarily from the Jim Crow era, an effort to keep Blacks effectively slaves. An armed Black man did not have to be concerned about hooded characters invading his property, because they'd be dead and the hood removed in short order.

          I don't care if people wish to wear masks so long as I'm not disarmed. If the masked people don't want to get shot then don't go busting down my door. Masked people in a shopping mall, making every purchase with cash, I have no problem with that. If it doesn't pick my pocket or break my leg it bothers me none.

          Disarming and unmasking people puts the government in a very powerful position. I have the right to associate as I please without the government knowing. I have the right to defend myself as I see fit. The government need not know what weapons I own. If the government fears me because I am anonymous and armed then perhaps it is because the government is doing something they should not.

          This is supposed to be a government of the people, for the people. We should be partners, not adversaries. That means the government needs to trust the people with being unnamed and armed. If they cannot do that then we have tyranny.

          • Those laws come primarily from the Jim Crow era, an effort to keep Blacks effectively slaves. An armed Black man did not have to be concerned about hooded characters invading his property, because they'd be dead and the hood removed in short order.

            The geek's faith in his guns is touching, if a little irrational.

            The last stand ---the one against the many. It makes a pretty picture. But in the real world, you are good as dead.

      • by hodet (620484)

        ..because....turrists. now pick up that can citizen!

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Right. And how long before it become illegal outright?

      Plus, try going inside a store with it on, you will be bounced faster than you can blink. And if you DO take it off, zap, you are on camera. Once you are ID'd in one spot, its pretty painless to follow you around, even after you put your mask back on.

      • Right. And how long before it become illegal outright?

        It is already illegal in many places [wikipedia.org]. Many European countries have laws against covering or obscuring your face in public. Many of these laws were originally aimed at Muslims, but apply to anyone. Many US states and localities also have bans, some originally aimed at the KKK. Anti-mask laws were used against protesters at "Occupy Wall Street".

        This is not a slippery slope. We are already at the bottom.

        • The laws where not aimed at muslims but demonstrants and rioters.

          • Quite. Muslims were given an exemption from them.

            • Quite. Muslims were given an exemption from them.

              I believe that is only true in Britain. In other countries, such as France and Belgium, Muslims were the target. When the mask ban was signed in France, President Sarkozy explicitly stated that a primary purpose of the law was to "uphold secular values".

              • Muslim womens ban for the shador came after the 'mask' ban.
                And it was befor Sarkozy!

              • Are you joking, or are you just someone who couldn't point to Belgium on a map of the bit between France and The Netherlands?

                Islamists, led by Laurette Onkelinx, are the second largest party in government.

    • Reverse it (Score:5, Funny)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:08AM (#46973071)

      Don't wear a mask. Get a mask of your face done. And when the feds show up, well, that wasn't me, just someone wearing my mask. I hate that as much as you do, officer, and if I just could stop it, believe me, I would... but people are bad, ya know?

      • Yeah, it seems to me the main thing this mask would accomplish is helping Leo Selvaggio hide himself from surveillance, not the rest of us - unless we're willing to wear it 100% of the time we go out in public.

    • Wearing a mask in public is already considered "probable cause" for detain and search. While I agree with the reasons, this product will go nowhere except Halloween parties.

      Now, I don't normally say this, because this is not Wikipedia. But [citation needed]. I do not believe this is true.

      Wearing a mask in a bank might be probable cause (and pretty stupid). But in public? I don't know of a single case in the United States in which wearing a mask was by itself considered probable cause for a search. If it were, Mardi Gras would no longer exist.

      I'm not claiming you're wrong, but I think you are. I would like to see some evidence before I'm convinced otherwise.

      • I just looked it up. [anapsid.org]

        8 States and DC have laws against wearing masks. That is a small minority. In general, they are either very Leftist states, or states in which KKK was known to operate in the past.

        Further, in almost all of those states, it is only unlawful to wear masks for the purpose of committing a crime or evading the authorities.

        So, NO. In general, wearing a mask is not "probable cause" in itself, nor illegal in itself, unless it is done in order to commit a crime.

        There are a few excepti
        • by gmhowell (26755)

          Six of the ten highest population states in the US are among those eight. This yields ~ 105 million people out of a population of 315 million, or 33%. I wouldn't describe this as a 'small minority'.

          All stats taken from wikipedia.

          • I wouldn't describe this as a 'small minority'.

            Since I was pretty clearly referring to a small minority of states, I will stick by my comment, since 8 out of 50 is a small minority.

            AND, I will remind that even where there are laws, in only a few places (see the link) are they laws against law abiding people wearing masks. With few exceptions it is about wearing them for illegal purposes.

            Well, guess what? It's not illegal to carry a gun around here either, but it IS very much illegal to use one for committing a crime.

            So what?

            • by gmhowell (26755)

              You can say that you were referring to a 'minority of states', but that argument is a bit disingenous when that small number covers a substantial portion of the population. I tend to agree with much of your thesis, but I found referencing a 'minority of states' to be be a weak argument.

    • by matbury (3458347)

      Doesn't anyone see the similarity between this and Aphex Twin's video to "Come to Daddy"? - Life imitating art. The fun starts about 1:50 into this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    • Wearing a mask in public is already considered "probable cause" for detain and search.

      While I agree with the reasons, this product will go nowhere except Halloween parties.

      If a person is living in an area where wearing a mask is illegal, perhaps some sort of face paint would work.

      You've seen the bizarre paint schemes called "Dazzle camouflage" (it's on wikipedia) used on ships at sea?

      What about Dazzle Camo face paint? Would that work to confuse the facial recognition algorithms?

      • Sorry to reply to my own post, I just googled "dazzle camo face paint" and apparently it CAN mess with facial recog.

  • by msauve (701917) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:43AM (#46972891)
    If he gets others to wear his face mask, he can go around without one and be hidden in the crowd. He should be paying others to wear these.
    • I can see this guy robbing a lot of banks if he's successful. Or at least getting pulled in for questioning a lot.
  • How long before wearing one of these makes you a potential terrorist in the eyes of the police, FBI, etc.?
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:58AM (#46972987) Journal
    All you need is make up. These recognition algorithms work by looking at the corners of mouth, centers of eyes and the tip of the nose. You should be able to take a picture of your mortal enemy load it up to Picassa or some such thing. Then use make up to add/subtract edges to your mouths, add a contrast point to the tip of the nose, take a selfie and see of Picassa matches your made up face to your patsy. Adjust it till you fool it. Then you can go commit serious crime in full view of the cameras, and tip off the police and point them to the guy who stole your girlfriend in high school. In security terms, the automatic face recognition systems hash your face to a checksum, but without a salt. Spoofing will be trivial.

    Pretty soon contact lenses will be available where you could color part of it white and some part black to change the distance between eye centers. After that the automatic face recognition system for surveillance will get their well deserved death.

    • by PPH (736903) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:06AM (#46973059)

      Even easier, large dark glasses. Cameras can't see your eyes and locate the centers. Or wear a pair of these [cvcdn.com].

      Sunglasses are your best bet, as law enforcement isn't going to be able to use them as probable cause for anything.

      • Or one of these:

        http://www.amazon.com/Solar-Fa... [amazon.com]

      • In Asia, where light skinned is beautiful, people literally cover themselves voluntarily head to toe (including mask for pollution + hat + trendy glasses).

        Literally you can't see who a person is. I've literally gone up to another girl outside my girlfriends house because she had a similar scooter / build / mask. Fortunately I was waving when I was coming up, otherwise I might have kissed some random girl on the street.

        In secure areas (read: airports, banks, etc.) there's typically a sign at the front tell

      • by antdude (79039)

        Yes, it also work well for other scenarios like sleeping. Ask Homer J(ay) Simpson during his jury duty. ;)

    • by denzacar (181829) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:29AM (#46973189) Journal

      Don't forget your clown shoes, pants and gloves to hide your gait. [ibtimes.co.uk]

      Also, a wig might be useful. A bright orange or green one.
      You'd be practically invisible in a crowd.

      As long as that crowd is at a clown convention. An Apple store might do in a pinch too.
      Hey... it worked for Captain America and Black Widow.

    • These will work just ast well: http://www.dreamstime.com/roya... [dreamstime.com]
    • by antdude (79039)

      So women are hard to track.

  • '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.'

    So they don't want you to have to hide, and they propose as an alleged alternative (re: "instead") a product that they sell for precisely that purpose.

  • Stopgap measure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CODiNE (27417) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:05AM (#46973047) Homepage

    Welcome to a new cat and mouse game.

    With a sufficient number of people successfully using this technique the detection methods will keep getting smarter.

    Sizing a person based on the distance between joints.
    Solution: elbow and knee extender prosthetics. Strap it on the upper limb and add a few inches before the joint is visible through clothing.

    Recognizing a person through their walking styles.
    Solution: Joining the ministry of silly walks and becoming and expert at switching gaits by choice.

    Heuristics based on tracking bodies and the likelihood of people doing switcheroos while off camera.
    At this point you would end up being a high profile target that gets human eyes overseeing your tracking.

    Infrared lights can be filtered...
    Errr...
    Looks like the mouse always loses this one.

    • Yep, things like this are just a temporary measure before the surveillance state gets too advanced. It's better to just limit the government's powers from the very beginning, but many people would rather have safety (or the illusion of safety) than have freedom.

    • by Sabriel (134364)

      Anybody remember Traveller?

      Tech Level 9: Commercial Biometrics. Sensor technologies used to identify medical problems become affordable for general commercial use and are integrated with biometric databases to provide instant identification of targets passing through an established sensor zone.

      Tech Level 10: Remote Biometrics. Continued advancements allow the economical integration of multiple sensors (infrared, optical, terahertz, ultrasound, etc) into a compact unit small enough to be carried in the field

  • There is no religious exception that I can see. I am wondering why people are not arrested for wearing burqas.

    http://www.anapsid.org/cnd/mcs... [anapsid.org]

  • What about the niqab, a scarf worn that completely obscured the entire face except for the eyes, most commonly worn by women who are Muslim? Are they proposing to eliminate religious freedom?

    What about people who wear surgical-like masks in public when they have a mild cold, permitting them to freely go in public without significantly increasing the chance of spreading the illness? Are they going to make laws requiring people who are ill to stay at home, even if they are well enough to otherwise do th

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      Those are all valid reasons to wear masks and laws take that into consideration. There are also exceptions made for holidays such as Halloween and Mardi Gras. The laws are designed to decrease the ability of people to hide their identity. If someone commits a street crime with their identity hidden it is almost impossible to catch them.

    • What about wearing a scarf because it's cold outside? With a bad enough windchill in the wintertime, you need to completely cover up your face unless you want frostbite. Are they going to make laws prohibiting cold weather?

      Of course. Why do you think they're warming up the globe?

  • or call it the "uncanny valley" if you like.

    You may fool the camera but you won't fool the eye and masks weird people out. It's too much like having a chance encounter with The Joker. In a concealed carry state I wouldn't be caught wearing one of these things if you paid me.

    A gang of men threatening people in Duston and demanding cash while wearing 'Jason' style masks from the Friday the 13th films is being linked to another knifepoint robbery [northamptonchron.co.uk]

    Woman in Darth Vader mask arrested for early morning armed [globalnews.ca]

  • by mspohr (589790) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:14PM (#46973813)

    This has already been done.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt01... [imdb.com]
    The 1991 movie "Point Break" featured a gang of surfers who robbed banks wearing masks of presidents.
    Pretty good movie.

  • There are plenty of masks that can do the trick already, the artist just wants to see lots of images of his face. If you want a living person's visage, go down to the halloween store and get an Obama mask or a Bush mask...

  • It becomes impossible to avoid surveillance. If you can't hide then overload the DB with volumes of irrelevant data. I make a new Safeway member card every time I shop. I create one use Hotmail accounts, sometimes 3 and 4 per day. If you could get together with a group of geographically diverse people and all agree to swap faces on a regular basis you could seriously reduce the viability of facial recognition systems all over. It is similar to adding all the NSA trigger words to the footer of your email.

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