A new iOS app called Anonymous Camera promises to be the most comprehensive solution for journalists and citizen photographers who want to capture photos and video without revealing the identity of their subject.
The app was created by a London-based company called Playground AI, and it wasn’t actually inspired by the recent BLM protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd. Anonymous Camera was designed with investigative journalists in mind—specifically, it was inspired by journalists working on stories about LGBT persecution in the United Arab Emirates.
The idea was to create an app that could us AI to automatically and instantly blur out faces or even full bodies, distort voices, and strip metadata for both photo and video recording. All processing happens on-device, which eliminates the need to send the photos out to an external server or hold on to unedited photos long enough to manipulate them in Photoshop—if your phone is confiscated along the way, you’ve just burned your source.
You can see a couple of examples of the app being used below, both posted by The Verge senior reporter James Vincent:
The app is still a little glitchy, but it’s got the most comprehensive features for anonymization I’ve seen, including distorting voices and stripping metadata. Importantly, it does it all in real time on device, meaning no undoctored footage is captured. pic.twitter.com/Tu6WD71XJ9
— James Vincent (@jjvincent) June 11, 2020
The app’s official debut couldn’t come at a more appropriate time, as photographers and citizen journalists alike are debating whether people should be blurring out faces and stripping out metadata from their protest photos. And while Anonymous Camera wasn’t designed to capture crowds—it’s really meant to be used with only a few subjects in the frame—the creators are working hard to improve the AI to that effect.
In the meantime, they hope that Anonymous Camera will be a useful tool for investigative journalists and concerned citizens alike, even with its large group limitations.
To learn more about the app or try it out for yourself, head over to the iOS app store. The app is free to download and use, and costs $2 if you want to remove the AC watermark from video recording. If you choose to upgrade, Playground says that all proceeds for the next month will go to the non-profits Black Visions Collective and Unicorn Riot.
(via The Verge)