Fujitsu Simplifies, Reduces Costs of Preventing Facial Authentication Fraud

September 25, 2020

Fujitsu says it has developed a cost-effective way to thwart attempts to fool facial recognition systems, we learn from IT-Online’s write-up, “Fujitsu Overcomes Facial Authentication Fraud.” The same factor that makes facial authentication systems more convenient than other verification methods, like images of fingerprints or palm veins, also makes them more vulnerable to fraud—photos of faces are easy to capture and reproduce. We’re told:

“Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a facial recognition technology that uses conventional cameras to successfully identify efforts to spoof authentication systems. This includes impersonation attempts in which a person presents a printed photograph or an image from the internet to a camera. Conventional technologies rely on expensive, dedicated devices like near-infrared cameras to identify telltale signs of forgery, or the user is required to move their face from side to side, which remains difficult to duplicate with a forgery. This leads to increased costs, however, and the need for additional user interaction slows the authentication process. To tackle these challenges, Fujitsu has developed a forgery feature extraction technology that detects the subtle differences between an authentic image and a forgery, as well as a forgery judgment technology that accounts for variations in appearance due to the capture environment. … Fujitsu believes that, by using these technologies, it becomes possible to identify counterfeits using only the information of face images taken by a general-purpose camera and to realize relatively convenient and inexpensive spoofing detection.”

We’re told the company tested the system in a real-world office/ telecommuting setting and confirmed it works as desired. Fujitsu hopes the technology will prove popular as remote work continues and, possibly, grows. The venerable global information and communication tech firm serves many prominent companies in several industries. Based in Tokyo, Fujitsu has been operating since 1935.

Cynthia Murrell, September 25, 2020

Podcast Search: Illuminating the Rich Media Darkness

September 22, 2020

Search for podcasts is broken. We learn of a possible first step toward a fix from Podnews in the brief write-up, “The Podfather Launches a New, Open Podcast Directory.” James Cridland writes:

“‘The digital ad space is watching as the bottom falls out of their data collection methods. But how exactly does Apple’s Age of Privacy impact podcasting?’ – in today’s Sounds Profitable, our new adtech newsletter, with Podsights.

“Adam Curry has launched a new, open podcast directory for app developers, working with developer Dave Jones. Speaking on a new podcast, Podcasting 2.0, Curry and Jones worry that ‘Apple is starting to tinker with their directory’, and say that the company is ‘a very centralized private entity that is controlling pretty much what everybody considers the default yellow pages for podcasting.’ His alternative, The Podcast Index, promises that the ‘core, categorized index will always be available for free, for any use’. You can sign up to be a developer on their developer portal. We support this initiative. As of today, Podnews uses The Podcast Index for our main podcast search.”

The index is a simple type-and-search format. It seems to work acceptably well on Podnews’ database, though it could use a little relevance refinement. Will the open directory attract developers and reach the larger segment? We hope this or another solution is implemented soon.

Cynthia Murrell, September 22, 2020

Facial Recognition: Who Is Against Early Diagnosis of Heart Disease?

September 3, 2020

The anti-facial recognition cohort may have a new challenge on their capable hands. Facial recognition is controversial. What if analysis of a face — for instance, in a selfie — can lead to an early diagnosis of heart disease. The person is alerted to visit a doctor. What if a life is saved? Is facial recognition granted a hall pass for a medical application?

I don’t want to dwell on fencing applications of pattern recognition. I would suggest that a quick look at “AI Expected to Detect Heart Disease via Selfies: Chinese Researchers” might be interesting. The write up states:

Facial appearance has long been identified as an indicator of cardiovascular risk. Features such as male pattern baldness, earlobe crease, xanthelasmata (yellowish deposit of fat around or on the eyelids) and skin wrinkling are the most common predictors.

And what about accuracy?

According to the results published in the European Heart Journal, the algorithm had a sensitivity of 80 percent and specificity of 54 percent, outperforming the traditional prediction model of coronary artery disease. Sensitivity refers to the algorithm’s ability to designate a patient with a disease as positive, while specificity is the test’s ability to designate a patient without disease as negative.

Interesting. How will anti-FR cohorts deal with medical technology which finds its way into different government agencies? DarkCyber does not have an answer, but perhaps pattern recognition will be banned? Perhaps not, however?

Stephen E Arnold, September 3, 2020

Maps with Blank Spots

September 2, 2020

We noted the “real” news outfit story “Blanked-Out Spots On China’s Maps Helped Us Uncover Xinjiang’s Camps.” The how to is interesting. We learned:

Our breakthrough came when we noticed that there was some sort of issue with satellite imagery tiles loading in the vicinity of one of the known camps while using the Chinese mapping platform Baidu Maps. The satellite imagery was old, but otherwise fine when zoomed out — but at a certain point, plain light gray tiles would appear over the camp location. They disappeared as you zoomed in further, while the satellite imagery was replaced by the standard gray reference tiles, which showed features such as building outlines and roads. At that time, Baidu only had satellite imagery at medium resolution in most parts of Xinjiang, which would be replaced by their general reference map tiles when you zoomed in closer. That wasn’t what was happening here — these light gray tiles at the camp location were a different color than the reference map tiles and lacked any drawn information, such as roads.

After reading the article, DarkCyber wonders what other interesting sites are missing?

Stephen E Arnold, September 2, 2010

Defeating Facial Recognition: Chasing a Ghost

August 12, 2020

The article hedges. Check the title: “This Tool could Protect Your Photos from Facial Recognition.” Notice the “could”. The main idea is that people do not want their photos analyzed and indexed with the name, location, state of mind, and other index terms. I am not so sure, but the write up explains with that “could” coloring the information:

The software is not intended to be just a one-off tool for privacy-loving individuals. If deployed across millions of images, it would be a broadside against facial recognition systems, poisoning the accuracy of the data sets they gather from the Web. <

So facial recognition = bad. Screwing up facial recognition = good.

There’s more:

“Our goal is to make Clearview go away,” said Dr Ben Zhao, a professor of computer science at the University of Chicago.

Okay, a company is a target.

How’s this work:

Fawkes converts an image — or “cloaks” it, in the researchers’ parlance — by subtly altering some of the features that facial recognition systems depend on when they construct a person’s face print.

Several observations:

  • In the event of a problem like the explosion in Lebanon, maybe facial recognition can identify some of those killed.
  • Law enforcement may find narrowing a pool of suspects to a smaller group may enhance an investigative process.
  • Unidentified individuals who are successfully identified “could” add precision to Covid contact tracking.
  • Applying the technology to differentiate “false” positives from “true”positives in some medical imaging activities may be helpful in some medical diagnoses.

My concern is that technical write ups are often little more than social polemics. Examining the upside and downside of an innovation is important. Converting  a technical process into a quest to “kill” a company, a concept, or an application of technical processes is not helpful in DarkCyber’s view.

Stephen E Arnold, August 12, 2020

Visual Search Engines Provide Different POV Than the Google

July 15, 2020

Google image search is the standard visual search tool people use. It does not, however, provide the extra kick needed for deeper dives, especially with all the Pinterest results. Tech Funnel addresses how visual search engines are an advantage for businesses as well as points out nine great ones in: “Popular 9 Visual Search Engines To Know.”

There are many benefits to using visual search, such as it that it connects with younger generations because they connect with images when they use social media and apps. They are far more likely to purchase an item through these platforms than a Web site. Visual search also allows people to emotionally connect with a brand than standard text and it boosts revenue as it will be the next way people search for items along with voice search.

Popular visual search engines include Pinterest Lens that allows users to take photos of items and they can find, save, or shop for them. Fashion retailers are already using it, so Pinterest users can find clothing their models wear. Google Lens is similar to Pinterest Lens, except its applications are more diverse. It can be used for translation, searching for items, places, people, etc.

Amazon Rekognitio, Instagram Shopping, Snapchat Camera Search, and eBay powered by Cassini search engine have visual search engines dedicated to searching and locating items from photos. They each have different aspects, but all perform the same function. Bing appears to be different:

“From the viewpoint of a user, the experience gotten from Bing Visual Search is similar to other various visual search platforms. However, its feature of an extensive developer platform makes it preferable by a lot of developers.

With Bing Visual Search, developers are enabled to instruct the search engine on the particular data people can get from a specific photo. This means that if Bing Visual Search directs an individual to a certain product on your website, the developer has the ability to determine what information should be provided to the visitor.”

CamFind and EasyJet are the most original engines, because they are not associated with shopping nor Google. CamFind is the first successful mobile visual engine that uses image detection. EasyJet allows people to book flights based off photos, so now you can finally discover where you screen wallpaper is located.

Whitney Grace, July 15, 2020

Even More of the British Museum Collection Goes Online

May 11, 2020

Now we can virtually view more works in the British Museum’s extensive collection from the safety of our homes, without even having to register. “British Museum Makes 1.9 Million Images Available for Free,” reports ianVisits. The collection is available under a Creative Commons 4.0 license, so users can download the images for free and use them for non-commercial uses as long as they credit the museum. The database revamp has been launched earlier than planned, both because more people are checking out exhibits online right now and because staff at the shuttered museum have had more free time to work on the project. The post informs us:

“The relaunch also sees 280,000 new object photographs and 85,000 new object records published for the very first time, many of them acquisitions the Museum has made in recent years, including 73 portraits by Damian Hirst, a previously lost watercolor by Rossetti, and a stunning 3,000-year-old Bronze age pendant. … This revamp is the biggest update the Museum’s Collection Online has seen since being first created in 2007. It is now fully responsive, making it accessible on mobile and tablets alongside desktop browsers for the first time. The online collection includes the Museum’s most famous objects such as the Rosetta Stone, the artifacts of Sutton Hoo, the Cyrus Cylinder, the Parthenon Sculptures, and the Benin Bronzes. Object records include physical descriptions, information on materials, display and acquisition history, dimensions, previous owners and curatorial comments. Work is continuing to ensure this information is included as fully as possible on every object in the collection and to add new photographs.”

A nifty new feature is the ability to view some of the objects up close, like he Rapa Nui sculpture Hoa Hakananai’a and the Chinese Admonitions Scroll made over 1600 years ago. Located in London, the venerable British Museum was established by Parliament in 1753. Due largely to the country’s acquisitive nature during its Empire years, its collection is second to none as a resource for exploring human history and cultural diversity.

Can one locate images? Sort of.

Cynthia Murrell, May 11, 2020

Dig.ccMixter for Royalty-Free Tunes

April 22, 2020

Here is a resource that makers (and aspiring makers) of video content and games will want to bookmark. CCMixter is an online community where musicians share their work through creative commons licenses. Dig.ccMixter is our search portal into that content, free to download and use even for commercial purposes. Scrolling down reveals three categories: instrumental music for film & video; free music for commercial projects; and music for video games. Clicking the “Dig!” button leads to a keyword search page, where you can search by attributes like genre, mood, and instruments. The site’s About page, titled Yea, But Is It Legal? explains:

“This is a community music remixing site featuring remixes and samples licensed under Creative Commons licenses. Music on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons license. You are free to download and sample from music on this site and share the results with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Some songs might have certain restrictions, depending on their specific licenses. Each submission is marked clearly with the license that applies to it.”

So there you have it—a free source of music for your projects, even ones you intend to profit from. All you have to do is give credit where credit is due.

Interestingly, developers can also access the site’s ccHost Query API. We’re told:

“The ccHost Query API is an open, publicly available interface that is available for public use, especially by 3rd party websites, mobile applications, smart TV appliances and any other network connected device. We here at ccMixter use it to help expose the artists that upload their Creative Commons licensed music to audiences that otherwise would not have access to. The API and software implementation is owned by ArtIsTech Media under a license agreement with Creative Commons. The music itself is owned by the individual artists that uploaded it to the site and agree, through the Creative Commons licenses to share the music through this mechanism.”

Bing, Google, and Yandex are not suited for some types of music search. Enter Mixter. Applause, please.

Cynthia Murrell, April 22, 2020

Petrucci Music Library: Refreshing and Mostly Free

April 15, 2020

One of the most important things video content creators need is music. Music licensing fees are expensive and creators on a budget usually cannot afford them. The solution is public domain music, but that is more difficult to find than you think. The solution is the Wikipedia equivalent of public domain music: IMSLP. This is an organization:

“IMSLP, also known as the International Music Score Library Project or Petrucci Music Library, was started in 2006. The logo on the main page is a capital letter A. It was taken from the beginning of the very first printed book of music, the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton. It was published in Venice in 1501 by Ottaviano Petrucci, the library’s namesake. The IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library is currently owned and run by Project Petrucci LLC, a company created with the sole purpose of managing this site.”

Using the IMSLP requires a small subscription fee of $3/month or $28.00/year. Despite the fee, the library offers a catered content free of audio files, scores, no download waits, nor ads.

Users can also upload their music to IMSLP under a creative commons license and have their work heard all over the world.

Searching for public domain music is risky for anything newer than the 1920s. Music can easily be labeled as “public domain,” but it is the Internet and you cannot trust anything unless you do your research. If you pay the subscription fee, IMSLP’s content is all public domain and you do not need to worry about copyright infringements.

Whitney Grace, April 13, 2020

Clearview: More Tradecraft Exposed

March 26, 2020

After years of dancing around the difference between brain dead products like enterprise search, content management, and predictive analytics, anyone can gain insight into the specialized software provided by generally low profile companies. Verint is publicly traded. Do you know what Verint does? Sure, look it up on Bing or Google.

I read with some discomfort “I Got My File From Clearview AI, and It Freaked Me Out.”

Here are some factoids from the write up. Are these true? DarkCyber assumes that everything the team sees on the Internet meets the highest standards of integrity, objectivity, and truthiness. DarkCyber’s comments are in italic:

  1. “Someone really has been monitoring nearly everything you post to the public internet. And they genuinely are doing “something” with it. The someone is Clearview AI. And the something is this: building a detailed profile about you from the photos you post online, making it searchable using only your face, and then selling it to government agencies and police departments who use it to help track you, identify your face in a crowd, and investigate you — even if you’ve been accused of no crime.”
  2. “Clearview AI was founded in 2017. It’s the brainchild of Australian entrepreneur Hoan Ton-That and former political aide Richard Schwartz. For several years, Clearview essentially operated in the shadows.”
  3. “The Times, not usually an institution prone to hyperbole, wrote that Clearview could “end privacy as we know it.” [This statement is a reference to a New York Times intelware article. The New York Times continues to hunt for real news that advances an agenda of “this stuff is terrible, horrible, unconstitutional, pro anything the NYT believes in, etc.”]
  4. “the company [Clearview] scrapes public images from the internet. These can come from news articles, public Facebook posts, social media profiles, or multiple other sources. Clearview has apparently slurped up more than 3 billion of these images.” [The images are those which are available on the Internet and possibly from other sources; for example, commercial content vendors.]
  5. “The images are then clustered together which allows the company to form a detailed, face-linked profile of nearly anyone who has published a picture of themselves online (or has had their face featured in a news story, a company website, a mug shot, or the like).” [This is called enrichment, context, or machine learning indexing and — heaven help DarkCyber — social graphs or semantic relationships. Jargon varies according to fashion trends.]
  6. “Clearview packages this database into an easy-to-query service (originally called Smartcheckr) and sells it to government agencies, police departments, and a handful of private companies….As of early 2020, the company had more than 2,200 customers using its service.” [DarkCyber wants to point out that law enforcement entities are strapped for cash, and many deals are little more than proofs-of-concept. Some departments cycle through policeware and intelware in order to know what the systems do versus what the marketing people say the systems do. Big difference? Yep, yep.]
  7. “Clearview’s clients can upload a photo of an unknown person to the system. This can be from a surveillance camera, an anonymous video posted online, or any other source.”
  8. “In a matter of seconds, Clearview locates the person in its database using only their face. It then provides their complete profile back to the client.”

Now let’s look at what the write up reported that seemed to DarkCyber to be edging closer to “real news.”

This is the report the author obtained:


The article reports that the individual who obtained this information from Clearview was surprised. DarkCyber noted this series of statements:

The depth and variety of data that Clearview has gathered on me is staggering. My profile contains, for example, a story published about me in my alma mater’s alumni magazine from 2012, and a follow-up article published a year later. It also includes a profile page from a Python coders’ meet up group that I had forgotten I belonged to, as well as a wide variety of posts from a personal blog my wife and I started just after getting married. The profile contains the URL of my Facebook page, as well as the names of several people with connections to me, including my faculty advisor and a family member (I have redacted their information and images in red prior to publishing my profile here).

The write up includes commentary on the service, its threats to individual privacy, and similar sentiments.

DarkCyber’s observations include:

  • Perhaps universities could include information about applications of math, statistics, and machine learning in their business and other courses? At a lecture DarkCyber gave at the University of Louisville in January 2019, cluelessness among students and faculty was the principal takeaway for the DarkCyber team.
  • Clearview’s technology is not unique, nor is it competitive with the integrated systems available from other specialized software vendors, based on information available to DarkCyber.
  • The summary of what Clearview does captures information that would have been considered classified and may still be considerate classified in some countries.
  • Clearview does not appear to have video capability like other vendors with richer, more sophisticated technology.

Why did DarkCyber experience discomfort? Some information is not — at this time or in the present environment — suitable for wide dissemination. A good actor with technical expertise can become a bad actor because the systems and methods are presented in sufficient detail to enable certain activities. Knowledge is power, but knowledge in the hands of certain individuals can yield unexpected consequences. DarkCyber is old fashioned and plans to stay that way.

Stephen E Arnold, March 26, 2020

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