D-ID develops tools to address face recognition’s privacy issues

In an effort to address privacy issues related to the use of face recognition in public, startup D-ID has developed new solutions that process images to make them unrecognizable to face recognition algorithms, but still resemble the original photo, according to a report in TechCrunch.

D-ID (its name stands for “de-identification”), which is currently involved in Y Combinator, was founded in 2016 by CEO Gil Perry, COO Sella Blondheim, and CTO Eliran Kuta.

Perry and Blondheim both served in the Israeli Special Forces some 10 years ago, while Kuta previously served in the Israeli Intelligence Corps.

“We couldn’t share our photos and profiles over the web because of sensitive positions. Even after we finished our service, we couldn’t share our photos when we traveled in South America,” Perry said. “We felt bad because we are very social and everyone was sharing photos, but we couldn’t.”

Once realizing that people in the security industry are forbidden from sharing photos online, D-ID developed an algorithm to protect images from face recognition technology.

Designed to be difficult for artificial intelligence to overcome, D-ID aims for its technology to be “the standard of image protection.”

“We started thinking about it when only people who worked in security or the government were very aware of face recognition technology,” said Perry. “Now everyone needs to be aware of it. Streets today are covered by cameras, we all carry smartphones. We are being photographed all the time. When you combine all the cameras and face recognition technology, privacy is actually gone.”

The technology’s growth will be further driven by new data privacy regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will require companies to strictly safeguard personal data starting in May 2018.

D-ID’s solutions serves companies that need to protect images of their employees or customers, health management organizations, and government and security agencies seeking to secure biometric data.

Perry said the startup will launch a pilot program with cloud-based image management service Cloudinary to protect more than 14 billion media assets.

Unlike other companies that provide tools that protect data from face recognition technology by making faces completely unrecognizable, D-ID’s changes are far less detectable which makes it more appealing to people who want to protect their online photos.

Perry said D-ID may release a consumer app if there is enough demand.

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