Nothing pixelated will stay safe on the internet

It’s becoming much easier to crack internet privacy measures, especially blurred or pixelated images. Those methods make it tough for people to see sensitive information such as obscured license plate numbers or censored faces, but researchers from University of Texas at Austin and Cornell University say that the practice is wildly insecure in the age of machine learning. Using simple deep learning tools, the three-person team was able identify obfuscated faces and numbers with alarming accuracy. On an industry standard dataset where humans had 0.19% chance of identifying a face, the algorithm had 71% accuracy (or 83% if allowed to guess five times). The algorithm doesn’t produce a deblurred image—it simply identifies what it sees in the obscured photo, based on information it already knows. The approach works with blurred…


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