Stupidest Anti-Surveillance Countermeasure Ever

Would you like to wear this?

That is the hot new surveillance countermeasure being offered.

The Chicago based sponsor of this was motivated by Chicago's "military grade facial recognition software" that allows the police to track people "anywhere in Chicago, the camera cannot only track you but pull up all of your corresponding information as well."

Sigh. Chicago wishes it had such capabilities.

The face mask company is called "URME Surveillance" (get it, you are me) and is running an Indiegogo Campaign.

Here's their video pitch:

Net / net, wear an uncomfortable mask that makes you look like a lunatic to defend against a technology that does not exist.

Meanwhile, URME wearers will now be kicked out of any bank they enter and receive the stinkeye from every police officer and paranoid soccer mom in existence.

Net / net, wear an uncomfortable mask that makes you look like a lunatic to defend against a technology that does not exist.

But wait John, that's only the tip of the stupidity iceberg! The real fun comes when you grant, for the sake of argument, that such military grade facial recognition does exist. Well, according to dude, everyone will ID as him worldwide. So how long has to go by until someone ID'd as him gets caught on camera killing or robbing or whatever (probably by someone foolishly using a pep-cam)... 10000 people in identical masks? Not long. After that LE gets to harrass or arrest, anyone wearing the mask!

The first day everyone wears the mask, everyone is anonymous to big brother. Hooray!

After 10 days everyone looks like a criminal. (Why do a couple of hooligans always have to ruin it for everybody else?)

After 100 days anyone wearing that mask would ID as possibly the most violent and depraved criminal the world has ever known, with enough accumulated sin to make Jesus blush.

I'm trying to figure out if the stupidity of thinking this is a new idea rates along with the rest of it. Hmmm, wear a mask that looks like a different person to avoid being identified? Yeah... definitely an original concept. NOT.

Hmmm, wear a mask that looks like a different person to avoid being identified?

At first I thought you might be overlooking the unintended distinguishing novelty of this device, i.e., look like a different (and probably far worse) criminal, not just a different person.

But after reviewing your clip, I realized that indeed even this nuance was pre-empted by the Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon masked character. The limited edition DVD contains the original/unmodified clip where, ala Reservoir Dogs, the robber unfortunately stuck with the last mask in the box, that of 'Tricky Dick', is heard to complain, "I wanna be Reagan!", "How come he gets to be 'Reagan'?"

If they have 'military-grade' facial recognition then they also probably have NASA-level retina scanning capabilities - for which URME does not provide a solution.

I think these will work just as well, and they wouldn't scare off most soccer moms:

Nose Glasses

True, Groucho did quite well with the ladies, although no one compares to Chico Marx...

No, this is the stupidest anti surveillance countermeasure:

n 1995, McArthur Wheeler robbed a Fidelity Savings Bank and a Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh, PA, on the same day. According to police, he was accompanied by an accomplice, Clifton Earl Johnston. In order to disguise himself, Wheeler covered his face in lemon juice. Lemon juice has been used as a type of "invisible ink"; when used as ink on paper and allowed to dry, lemon juice only appears when heated. Wheeler used this fact as a basis to reason that placing unheated lemon juice on his face would render him invisible to bank security cameras. Police reviewed the video of the robberies and were able to arrest Wheeler the same day. The video tape was played on the 11 o'clock news; within minutes an informant had provided police with McArthur Wheeler's name and by 12:15 AM he was in police custody. When shown the surveillance tape from the robberies, Wheeler was shocked and objected: "But I wore the juice". Wheeler had tested his lemon juice hypothesis prior to proceeding with the robberies. After covering his face with lemon juice, he took a picture of himself using a Polaroid camera. At the time of Wheeler's arrest, he explained to one of the detectives handling his case, Sergeant Wally Long, that his face had failed to appear in the resulting photograph; a seeming confirmation of his theory. Detectives would speculate this result was caused by bad film, incorrect camera operation, or lemon juice in Mr Wheeler's eyes.

This incident inspired research that led to the formulation of the Dunning-Kruger effect we were discussing in another thread, in fact.

Think about this:

If you were a master criminal and wanted to make yourself bullet-proof from eyewitness identification, it would be difficult to find a better way than to somehow convince lots of other people to wear your face around in public.

Clever as always! Alternatively, think about this:

If you were head of the LE who is deploying the 'military grade' face-rec, and have found yourself in a bind, because although you have proudly 'demonstrated' your baby to the melodious 'oohing' and 'aahing' of your peers on numerous occasions, you now find that, in production, your facebase is growing exponentially larger and correspondingly slower everyday.

But if you could just make a majority of the criminals wear the same mask, it could significantly speed access! It might even give you enough time to get that job at <insert beleaguered analytics company of choice>.

LOL....I'm speechless!

At first glance, this looks stupid. But if you look/think deeper, this is the start of many things that the industry needs to look at further, whether to combat or look at from an ethics standpoint.

How do we defeat anti facial recognition as an industry?


As an industry, do we need to monitor ourselves on the technology we create that could take away from our own freedoms or to elimate the freedoms of people a half a world a way? What is the line that surveillance should not cross? Should there be a line?

As far as innovation...this is innovative and will spark more and more innovative ways to combat facial recognition. Stealth technology went through this similar motion. If Beats can sell for a few Billion Dollars, then a raw anti facial recognition product/technology could probably sell for more.

Seriously, from a security industry perspective, we should not laugh at this too much and open our minds up to think about possible various (future) repercussions, from all points of view, that anti facial recognition and facial recognition could bring.

As a startup or an investor, both sides could make you a billionaire. The security world is still innovative. Just don't let a celebrity investor "Beat" you to it.

Thing with this type of measure is, its effectiveness goes beyond surveillance - 99.99% of even the most experienced operators or LEOs would be unable to identify someone behind the mask even if that person was standing right in front of them, without other cues to go from (tattoos, piercings, scars, etc.)

The face, possibly, is not the only way to identify a person through analytics. This is where we need to open our minds up. How does a FitBit know how many steps we take or the Nike Fuel (Patterned Data)? These devices are generated to the masses so they are not honed in perfectly. However, if you could study the exact characteristics of a persons may have something. I'm pretty sure we all walk a little differently matched with the degree angle of each foot.

How is the modern day aircraft able to fly with so many instruments and etc? I'm guessing it is because of all the patterned data they have collected. Data has many different patterns.

Big Data is full of patterns. If cameras learn how to pick (Input) up data patterns better...we will all be recognizable.

A better way to distort a face, only on camera and not in life, would be to use the tactics we security people already know, (How John makes his living) and outside people do not. How do you do this? By using techniques that John drills to us weekly...Low Light problems and too much light problems. Example - Use IR lighting that comes from various anlges from a hat, or collar of a jacket. It is not too hard to combat slow camera settings.

Don't be the guy that sprinkles lemon juice on his face thinking cameras will see blur then rob a bank.

Don't be the guy that sprinkles lemon juice on his face thinking cameras will see blur then rob a bank.

Though the leading redlight camera thwarting, license-plate spray states that it has not been tested on animals, it makes no mention on whether it works on humans. Probably because it does... Repercussions? ;)

Data can always be manipulated. It looks like this spray draws in light by being reflective.

I'm at work with restricted internet access, but didn't Mythbusters do an episode on these sprays?

They did. It is Plausible

Maybe Not Plausible with this point.

They're just using the wrong type.

Actually its the breakthrough in invisibility technologies that the militaries and law enforcements of the world will need to worry about in the future as real cloaking technology is on the way!

oh and a better article here

Syd, thanks for sharing. Interesting concept.

For others, the key claim is that it "uses a hexagonal array of glass-like panels to bend light around an object, obscuring it from view as though hidden by an invisibility cloak."

Not sure how viable this is, especially for individuals, but worth being aware of.

No probs John. If you quickly read the news article link to the SHM website there are many other different technologies scientists are experimenting with. Rest assured science fiction is becoming reality very quickly and yes its worth being aware of this ....

New offering, not as nutty but still weird: surveillance 'invisibility' glasses