Legal Services Start-Up Announces an Additional Feature for Customers
DoNotPay says it has developed anti-facial recognition filter to help people prevent their photos from being found in online reverse image searches. Individuals, employers, and law enforcement agencies use search engines like Google to find photos of people online. These photos can exist in social media posts, dating profiles, or any other digital form.
DoNotPay is known for its fleet of lawyer bots that take care of simple purchase quarrels, such as canceling online subscriptions, or disputing college fee waivers, to requesting refunds from airlines. Their website hosts a non-exhaustive list of services such as signing up for and canceling free trials, how to get a refund for games on Steam, and how to deal with customer support.
The New Security Product: Photo Ninja
With web browsers enabling photo searches, research and related tasks have become simpler and less time-consuming. However, as it is with any technological advance, this new feature comes with risks to the public. It is now very easy for someone to take a photo, run it through the browser, and find more information on an individual, whereas it was previously necessary to have a last name or phone number to find the same amount of information.
In response, DoNotPay has come up with a service to thwart facial recognition software to protect users. For $36 a year, users are able to shield their photos from yielding search results for image searches.
How does it work?
Once a photo is uploaded to the software which behaves like an image filter, it adds a layer of “pixel-level” disturbances that should be difficult to distinguish to the naked eye, but other AI would be unable to recognize the photo. The resulting image should yield no results on Google or Tiny Eye. Photo Ninja has also proven 99% efficacy through popular Microsoft and Amazon facial recognition software. It has not yet been tested with Clearview AI, which is used by law enforcement entities, however, the company believes that it should work on principle.
Photo Ninja Weak Points
Despite its success rate with some popular search engines and facial recognition programs, it is not protection against all programs. One thing working against Photo Ninja is the prior existence of scraping programs which have likely resulted in our photos already existing in facial recognition software. For example, Clearview AI already has accessed many images through scraping and publicly accessible sources.
Another thing that users dislike is that, while the company claims that the difference in the photos should be nearly indistinguishable to the naked eye, it is obvious to users that the photo is flipped horizontally. This causes the image to change in appearance. In the case of some individuals, this can make a substantial difference in the photo quality and deter them from using the service.
A Step in the Right Direction
Despite any qualms users have for the program, the price of $36 per year (the equivalent of $3 per month) may be worth the privacy for many users. Considering that the program is new, it is expected to evolve over time, especially as they continue to research and stay up-to-date on any other threats that individuals might face online.