Google has announced that two of its newest technologies that are privacy-enhancing (PET), including one that blurs objects in video, will be made available to anyone for free through open source.
The new tools are part of Google’s Protected Computing, which should transform “how, when and where data is processed to technically ensure its privacy and safety..”
A project called Magritte, now available on Github, which uses machine learning to detect objects and applying blur as soon as they appear on the screen. It can mask license plates, tattoos, etc.
“This code is especially useful for video journalists who want to provide increased privacy assurances,” Google wrote in the blog. “By using this open-source code, videographers can save time in blurring objects from a video, while knowing that the underlying ML algorithm can perform detection across a video with high-accuracy.”
The project, called the Fully Homomorphic Encryption Translator (FHE), allows developers to perform calculations on encrypted data without access to personally identifiable information. Google says this could help industries such as financial services, healthcare and government “where a robust security guarantee around the processing of sensitive data is of highest importance.”
Google notes that PETs are coming into use after being primarily an academic exercise. The White House recently touted the technology, saying it “will allow researchers, physicians, and others permitted access to gain insights from sensitive data without ever having access to the data itself.” Google noted that this year the US and UK governments are conducting competition to develop PET-based solutions to fight financial crime and health emergencies.