Surveillance cameras are not new, however growing mistrust about their widening presence is. This has led to a rise in the production of clothing that scrambles the ability of these cameras to recognise people who wear them. And the newest product here is a jacket that stops the wearer from being identified by facial recognition cameras. Yes, a surveillance jacket that protects you from the all-knowing AIs.
The people behind “Skinner Wear” claim to have sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars in research and development into their first product.
The new Canadian clothing line is not the first to try and overcome surveillance cameras. But the clothes that can do this look wildly ugly and you would have a hard time convincing people to wear them for fashion alone.
But what if there was a jacket that could scramble the surveillance cameras and AI identification devices attached to them, and it looked like a normal jacket? Even … stylish?
Skinner Wear’s first TikTok got over 4.5 million views, and they are ready to go into mass production.
The unnamed designer behind the jacket says that the largest security vulnerability lies in the only thing everybody carries … a phone. “After months of testing, we finally have a Faraday pocket, which we call the ‘dark pocket’.”
In order to counter phone tracking and signal transmission, Skinner Wear combined normal pocket material with a woven mesh, creating a three-layer cage. “It is a folding structure which creates an impermeable seal when closed.”
What is a Faraday cage?
The Faraday cage is named after British scientist Michael Faraday, who invented the device in the 19th century.
Faraday built a large wooden cube and covered it with metal foil. He tested it using an electrostatic generator and showed that the structure killed any electric field inside the cage. He named it after himself, as he often did with his discoveries.
The good news here is that modern scientists have worked out that a Faraday cage can also block any signals leaving a phone, if that phone is inside a Faraday cage.
The vinyl bag pictured below has a special metal mesh inside that can block wireless signals from reaching a phone or other device. This kind of bag is often used by the military and the police. People are using these bags to protect their personal data.
Mass surveillance programs
Do we need to worry about being watched all the time?
Some countries have much, much more surveillance than others. China is famous for its mass surveillance programs, such as the social credit system and facial recognition cameras, and its internet censorship. China is also exporting its surveillance technology to other countries such as Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Ecuador.
A US-based Chinese influencer called “Zoe Reacts” is impressed with the Skinner Wear jacket that stops this kind of surveillance: She said: “I need this in China. Imagine … we have several hundred-million cameras, it’s one camera for every two citizens. It makes you seriously think about buying that jacket.”
Some countries have different views about privacy. Ireland, Norway, France and Portugal are among those with strong constitutional and statutory protections, effective privacy enforcement, limited use of biometrics and data sharing, and reasonable visual and communication surveillance.
HWL Ebsworth Lawyers says that face recognition AI is used in Australia. Fans of the tech include banks and phone companies, mainly for reasons of verifying identity.
Since 2019 South Australian police have used the AI “NEC NeoFace system”, which can identify faces.
The jacket also comes with an inbuilt face covering that pulls across from inside the hood. It is made from a material that scrambles facial recognition software. The special design, called an ‘adversarial patch’, makes the facial recognition software malfunction.
This concept isn’t new – the Italian company Cap_able has created a line of clothing that can trick facial recognition software by using this kind of printed material. More or less, most facial recognition software for human identification edits out what it thinks are animals. So Cap_able makes clothes that trick the facial recognition software into thinking a human is an animal. So it disregards the human inside the clothes.
The jacket that claims to make you invisible to surveillance cameras is a novel product that may appeal to people who value their privacy and freedom. The jacket is not only a clothing item, but also a statement against the growing use of mass surveillance around the world.
But is this really needed? Should we be worried? As for its cost, there is no word on pricing yet.
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