Surveillance system scrambles people’s faces

June 7, 2006

New Scientist – Surveillance system scrambles people’s faces
This has interesting implications for early learning environments and being ‘watched on the job’.


An intelligent video surveillance system that automatically scrambles people’s faces to protect them from unwarranted monitoring has been developed by a Swiss company.
…the technology singles out any people in a video feed, on the basis of their movement, and disguises them digitally while leaving the rest of the scene intact. … The system can be used as an add-on to a normal video surveillance feed. At its core is an algorithm that scrambles the relevant parts of a video feed using an encryption key that can be kept secret. This means the resulting video can then be viewed by anyone, but only those in possession of the encryption key can unlock the scrambled regions and identify the people shown on-screen. Its developers say the system could let law enforcers use closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras without invading the privacy of those being watched. For example, a video stream could remain anonymous until its operators realise that a crime has been committed. The video could then be unscrambled by authorities with the necessary encryption key.

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