Turns out facial recognition technology can’t identify members of Insane Clown Posse. At least not yet.
Facial recognition technology is becoming increasingly common in the United States. The Federal government and some states love FR, crediting it with the timely capture of the Capital Gazette murder suspect, for example. Other individuals and organizations are more hesitant, citing a lack of regulations and the potential for misuse.
With facial recognition becoming more and more common and increasingly effective, what is a privacy-loving citizen or a would-be criminal mastermind to do?
According to privacy and security expert Ian O’Neill, the answer is as clear as the paint on an Insane Clown Posse fan’s face. Members of the self-styled Juggalo family typically don distinctive black-and-white clown paint during ICP-related events, the band’s annual Gathering, and civil protests.
O’Neill says the highly stylized makeup has unique characteristics that protect wearers against invasive FR systems.
According to O’Neill, FR depends on relatively few facial markers to match individual faces to images in identification databases. Juggalo makeup redraws the wearer’s jawline, eyebrows, nose, and sometimes other features. Other types of heavy makeup do not fool FR because they leave these critical features undisguised.
ICP fans are often viewed with suspicion by outsiders. The FBI has even classified them as a soft-core gang. As a result, wearing Juggalo makeup in public is not a good way to escape notice. In a crowd, though, it may be an effective way to avoid being identified.
O’Neill is quick to point out that FR software can be adapted to see past the optical illusions created by the paint, and some kinds of FR technology can already see through them.
Researchers like O’Neill are still working on more effective ways to fool FR. In the meantime, a mask may be the best way to keep your identity private. Fortunately, your friendly neighborhood Juggalo may have just the thing. ICP fans often skip the face paint altogether and wear Juggalo-themed masks instead.