An activist focused on surveillance issues is seeing the future — and everyone in it looks like him.
Leo Selvaggio thinks enough Americans are growing worried enough about the omnipresence of security cameras, ubiquitous personal recording devices and ever-more-precise face recognition software that they’re willing to wear a rubber prosthetic mask to conceal their actual identities, according to the technology website CNET.
That would make it impossible to be picked up and identified by a random street camera or caught in the background of a picture taken by a stranger then tagged on the Internet. It might keep them from landing in the authorities’ files too, if they’re part of any street demonstrations.
“We don’t believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn’t have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public,” states the website for Selvaggio’s company URME (pronounced “you-are-me.”).
The “alternative identity” is Leo Selvaggio.
The company name comes from its product – the “Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic” is made from a 3D scan of Selvaggio’s face. And it’s meant to be taken literally. In other words, if you’re wearing the mask, as far as face recognition software is concerned, you are Selvaggio.
Selvaggio recently launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding page to get the capital to make his fake reality a reality.
“When you wear these devices the cameras will track me instead of you and your actions in public space will be attributed as mine because it will be me the cameras see,” Selvaggio says on the page.
“All URME devices have been tested for facial recognition and each properly identifies the wearer of me on Facebook, which has some of the most sophisticated facial recognition software around.”
There are snags. Wearing masks in public outside of special circumstances – parades, holidays and the like – is illegal in many states (a holdover from crackdowns on Ku Klux Klan activity) and there’s always the chance that one of Selvaggio’s customers might actually commit a crime he will be tagged for.
According to CNET, Selvaggio thinks it’s worth the risk if his project only heightens public discussion of the surveillance that surrounds us.
All products, he said, will be sold at cost. He said he’s not out to make a profit.
But you’ll never forget his face,
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