The automated legal services start-up DoNotPay is expanding its portfolio with the release of a new anonymization tool designed to thwart face-based reverse image searches. To that end, the Photo Ninja tool subtly alters the pixels of any photo uploaded to the platform. The changes are imperceptible to the naked eye, but render the original image invisible to matching software that tries to identify photos with artificial intelligence.
As a result, a photo that has been altered with Photo Ninja will generate zero hits when run through Google image search or TinEye. The software prevents people from using an image posted on a dating profile or a social media site to dig up other identifying information for the person depicted in that photo.
In that regard, Photo Ninja is comparable to the open-source Fawkes tool that the University of Chicago’s Sand Lab released back in August. DoNotPay referenced Fawkes while developing Photo Ninja, but noted that the average consumer is unlikely to be familiar with academic software. With Photo Ninja, the company is hoping that its corporate reach will help raise awareness and make anonymization technology more popular with the general public.
According to DoNotPay, an image altered with Photo Ninja will also fool Amazon and Google’s facial recognition software 99 percent of the time. However, the company could not guarantee that it would beat all facial recognition software, largely because many algorithms were trained with older images that were posted before they could be run through a tool like Photo Ninja. With that in mind, a company like Clearview AI (which scraped billions of images from sites like Facebook) will still have access to unmodified images that could be used to facilitate a match.
“In a perfect world, all images released to the public from Day 1 would be altered,” said DoNotPay CEO Joshua Browder. “As that is clearly not the case for most people, we recognize this as a significant limitation to the efficacy of our pixel-level changes. Hence, the focal point and intended use case of our tool was to avoid detection from Google Reverse Image Search and TinEye.”
DoNotPay is best known for providing customers with bots that can handle annoying tasks like subscription cancellations and refund requests. D-ID has also released its own Smart Anonymization tool that removes identifying features from video and photo content.
Source: The Verge
April 29, 2021 – by Eric Weiss