De-identifying Video Data Demonstration

About the demonstration

The idea of de-identified face images is to thwart face recognition software from reliably making correct recognitions while keeping the resulting images practically useful. This allows de-identified video to be shared for many worthy purposes with privacy assurances against automatically tracking all the people all the time. For example, using de-identified face images prohibits automatic unrestricted matching of face images to driver license photographs.

While this demonstration provides examples of how realistic de-identified faces may appear, this demonstration also provides a CAPTCHA, which is a program that attempts to tell humans apart from computers.  This demonstration poses a different use of de-identified face images than their original purpose for data sharing with privacy protection. 

As a CAPTCHA, our goal in this demonstration is to technically characterize (in eigenvectors and PCA terms), the circumstances in which humans perform better than existing face recognition software.  We believe our ability to do so may lead to insights for improving face recognition software. Such insights would still not thwart the privacy protection provided.

In order to demonstrate our claim, the images in the demonstration are not just a randomly selected set of images.  Instead, they are images that were selected based on algorithmically selecting an optimal set of face images for which we believe humans would be good at recognizing and face recognition software would be very bad.  While several proofs are yet to be made, this demonstration does seem to bear this out (so far).

If so, a corollary to this claim, would be that careful selection of a training set and a gallery set can seriously inflate recognition results over what would be realized in the general case.  This is achieved by inverting the criteria in the face set selection algorithm mentioned above.  That is, we could have alternatively, selected an optimal set of faces in which face recognition would have done very well and humans very poorly.

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Summer 2003 Data Privacy Lab [De-identifying Video Project]