YouTube Face Blurring Tech Latest Google Thwarting of Authoritarian Governments

try finding my face now?GoogleGoogle, which last month announced it was informing users who appeared to be being targeted by state-sponsored hackers, today unveiled a new face blurring technology for YouTube, which it owns. Amanda Conway, a YouTube policy analyst, explained on the video service’s blog:

According to the international human rights organization WITNESS’ Cameras Everywhere report, “No video-sharing site or hardware manufacturer currently offers users the option to blur faces or protect identity.”

YouTube is excited to be among the first.

Today we're launching face blurring - a new tool that allows you to obscure faces within videos with the click of a button.

Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube.

The tool allows the user to blur whatever faces they want in the video they’ve uploaded and then, as a safeguard against government attempts to seize original unaltered video, gives the user the option to delete the original video.

At Google’s Public Policy blog, the company’s vice president for global communications and policy, Victoria Grand, explained the importance of anonymity in so-called citizen reporting and even suggested additional precautions for activists using YouTube to post video of protests and human rights abuses, including assessing the risk posed by posting the video itself, to consider information that could be used against the user or other subjects on the video, and to remember some countries are so shitty even purchasing a SIM card can get you on a government track list.

A Google engineer last month proposed an error message that would inform the end-user access to a website was being blocked by local law or government sanction.

The Senate, meanwhile, is holding hearings about facial recognition technology.

More Reason on the internets and on privacy

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They blurred faces in The Ring and we all know how that turned out.

  • ||

    I think your phone is ringing, FoE.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Not to worry. That's just my smoke detector.

  • ||

    So you said you had a video you wanted to show me. Are we going to watch it or not?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I just realized, the "ring" could mean the ring in the videotape (and I don't even have VHS hooked up anymore, FYI) or the telephone ring. That blows my mind.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Anyway, the video I wanted to show you was Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon. Oh man, that Sho'nuff, will he ever learn?

  • ||

    I've always wondered - if the well girl called, what would the caller ID say?

  • ||

    YOU'RE FUCKING DEAD

    Or just Sadako Yamamura.

  • ||

    YOU'RE FUCKING DEAD

    Well if I ever see that, I'm letting that shit go straight to voicemail.

  • ||

    You didn't achieve that, Feminism did

    Also, of course, the commenters just can't see why anybody would view feminism as a negative term.

  • Paul.||

    At first I felt like Mayer's dismissal of feminism was disappointing but not the biggest deal; after all, 71% of American women don't identify as feminist, a statistic Caitlin Moran touches upon in How To Be a Woman, her UK bestseller which just came out in the US. "What part of ‘liberation for women' is not for you?" she asks. "Is it freedom to vote?

    I'd guess that 71%(+) of Americans don't identify as libertarians.

    I think that people would find it presumptive if I asked, "What part of freedom from tyranny isn't for you?"

  • Tulpa the White||

    Does it only work on faces? What if I don't want the world to see the skin tags on my armpits?

  • Paul.||

    Paint little eyes and mouths on them, and you're good.

  • DJF||

    Would this software also allow people who commit crimes such as murder to blur their faces so they can upload the murder video and get away with it?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new.....-1.1115396

  • Paul.||

    Uhm, no. Facebook users aren't interested in blurring their faces. Get it?

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    After the China kerfuffle, it looks like Google is taking steps to avoid looking like the dictator's best friend. Hopefully, it will save some lives.

  • bopomtXQ||

    Make money using Google. Find out how to make up to $175/hr working for this billion dollar company. More info @ makecash25dotcomONLY

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement