Anonymous Taps MacGyver, Tackles Facial Recognition in Latest Video

August 22, 2012 - 

Hacktivist group Anonymous has released another ominous video, and this time it’s about thwarting biometric facial recognition systems with a hat, a battery and a few small infrared lights.

“Many of you have heard the recent stories about TrapWire,” the robotic narration begins. “Constant video surveillance is an issue we presently face. However, there are a number of ways that you can combat this surveillance.”

At this point, the video gives some basic instructions for avoiding the facial recognition tech from identifying who you are. Some suggestions include wearing a mask, distorting your face with elaborate makeup to throw off recognition software, pointing a laser pointer directly into a surveillance camera’s lens and even tilting your head more than 15 degrees to the side.

Tilting your head to the side as you walk in a public space is hardly inconspicuous, nor does it really hide your face from the camera. Strategically applying makeup to avoid recognition is not only complex, but also makes you look like a clown who ran short of face makeup before a gig at a haunted circus – not to mention the public attention you’d draw to yourself. Throwing on your favourite Guy Fawkes mask before walking out in public also has its own obvious drawbacks in a public space, despite how anonymous that makes you feel.

“Wearing a mask is a common way to keep your identity hidden,” continues the video. “However, a mask does not protect against biometric authentication.”

“Surely there are better solutions to avoid being added to a database.”

Shining a laser pointer directly into a camera’s lens is a sound solution known to disprupt and disable surveillance systems but relies heavily on timing and aim. The solution? According to the video, wiring a few infrared LEDs powered by a 9-volt battery to the front of a hat will do the trick, making surveillance cameras unable to see your face at all, let alone be able to employ facial recognition software to analyze the captured image.

Watch the video.

Anonymous is often labelled as an evil and malicious group of pranksters intent on causing harm, but that’s not necessarily the case. Hacking can be intrusive and may seem cruel to many, but it also fosters innovation, exposing flaws and encouraging more sound design with consideration for creative hacks down the line.

What do you think – Are there lessons to be learned for biometric innovation from this latest Anonymous video? Let us know in the comments.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj