Photo above: Illustration to demonstrate Protected image vs Unprotected image
The surprising start-up company from Tel Aviv, D-ID, has officially announced its initial product at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2018 this week . The company has developed a solution that protects photos and videos of organizations from face recognition, while keeping them similar to the human eye. The company serves organizations that store photos and videos of employees, customers or citizens, amog them cloud storage providers, social networks, financial institutions, health management organizations and governments that want to protect their biometric databases.
The name D-ID originated from the professional term de-identification. D-ID’s first customer is Cloudinary, an image and video management solution which helps more than 350K companies manage, optimize and deliver more than 22B media assets. The company has also signed significant agreements with customers in the financial services and automotive industry.
“Our photos contain biometric data. Using them with face recognition, anyone can track you, hack your devices and steal your identity. That’s why our photos must be protected,” says Gil Perry, CEO and Co-Founder of D-ID. “We’ve moved too fast with face recognition and it is now a threat to our fundamental human right to privacy.” The face recognition market is growing exponentially. It’s increasingly used all around the world: To analyze shopping behavior, to authenticate payments, to access smartphones and even to rank citizens’ or track people in protests.
Faces are “sensitive information”
The company’s approach to digitally manipulating images renders images unreadable by the machine learning tools that are used to identify an individual, but are imperceptible to the human eye. “We use advanced image processing and deep learning to process the photo or video in such a way that it will look similar to the human eye but machines, AI, face recognition classifiers will not be able to recognize the individual,” says Perry. He also mentioned that the solution is constantly inspected by a special “red team” that launch attacks in order to break the protection and reveal weaknesses in its defense.
The issue of image protection draws a public interest. Data privacy regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which became enforceable in May 2018, address face images as “personal sensitive information” and require companies to protects this data or risk heavy fines and lawsuits. “People are aware and concerned about the security risks of face recognition. Now is the time to protect this data and we are here to make sure it happens,” said Perry.
D-ID was founded in 2017 by CEO Gil Perry, COO Sella Blondheim and CTO Elira Kuta. The founders served in the Israeli Special Forces and intelligence unit 8200. They experienced first-hand the risks to privacy when, due to the sensitive nature of their roles, they were not allowed to share photos on social media. The company received Gartner’s Cool Vendor 2018 recognition. D-ID has raised $4mm led by Pitango Venture Capital with participation from Y Combinator, Maverick Ventures, Foundation Capital and Fenox Venture Capital.