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Morphing service anonymises faces for passports, while retaining their legitimacy

Morphing service anonymises faces for passports, while retaining their legitimacy

Mask ID from Berlin-based group Peng Collective is rather ingenious: it creates new faces built out of “real” ones submitted to a database, which are valid for passports.

The idea is this. By combining your face with others in Peng’s database, you have a passport-ready photo which is technically, but not physically, both you and someone else. It means that you both could, in theory, travel with the same passport photo and both be accepted, even though you both physically look different to the actual photo.

Peng is exposing a folly within the biometric systems of personal identification databases: that as long as “the system” correctly cross-refers your facial features back to its data, then everything is deemed to be OK, and the border control clerk won’t bat an eyelid - in theory.

The collective’s real remit is to “jam” these systems with scrambled information, but it’s a concept that is deep and thought-provoking. As long as intergovernmental databases authenticate your details, what is the effect on our sense of self? Can we genuinely become one person from two - a digital version of Genesis and Lady Jane Gray P-Orridge, perhaps?

It’s all here. Upload your photo, wait for Peng to do their magic, then get your Mask ID.

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