Snapchat – Exploring Tech to Protect People’s Privacy

There are tons of people using Snapchat each day, and the company is now exploring how facial recognition technology can be utilized in order to protect the privacy of its users. In a new patent that has been filed by the smartphone app messaging company, which was issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on the 19th of July, the technology is entitled: “Apparatus and method for automated privacy protection images.”

Snapchat - Exploring Tech to Protect People's Privacy

Snapchat Patents Face Recognition Feature for Privacy

The patent discusses how sophisticated face-recognition technology can be used by Snapchat to scan new photos, and then it can even either refuse to allow the image to be shared without the right levels of permission, or it can even automatically edit the image to protect the privacy of the subject within the photo.

Many deem this as a novel idea for face recognition technology, as it is a frequent subject for concern for activists because of its potential to invade a person’s privacy and can even bring about surveillance. The patent by Snapchat delivers an alternative solution as the technology can even be enhanced for people’s privacy.

For those who are interested on what the patent says, do note that the language used in the filing is dense and technical, as patents are often found to be as such. However, it does detail an interesting concept. For instance, a portion of the patent states the following: “A method executed by a computer, comprising: receiving an image from a client device; executing a facial recognition technique against an individual face within the image to obtain a recognized face; applying privacy rules to the image, wherein the privacy rules are associated with privacy settings for a user associated with the recognized face; and distributing a privacy protected version of the image, wherein the privacy protected version of the image has an altered image feature, wherein the privacy protected version of the image is distributed to an ephemeral gallery … [and so on]”

So what does the patent from Snapchat mean? In plain English, it states that the company can build a facial recognition system for its users, and that these users would then be able to save certain privacy settings on how they would want their photos to be shared. When the photo is then taken, the feature would take effect. If the feature detects a user with a certain privacy setting enabled, then it can limit how the photo can be shared. Otherwise, if the take of the photograph does not have the right permission to share a photo to someone, then it will modify the image prior to it being sent such as blurring the subject’s face.


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