• 03.26.12

How ObscuraCam Makes Your Videos Safe

Newly released Android app ObscuraCam lets users pixelize faces and strip metadata from Internet video.

Activists and weekend warriors rejoice. Citizen journalists working in unfree societies and party animals looking to strip the incriminating information from Friday-night hijinks will enjoy a new Android application. ObscuraCam v2, produced by non-profit organizations WITNESS and The Guardian Project, anonymizes faces in online video and strips out all metadata.


Fast Company previously reported on ObscuraCam’s previous incarnation, which only worked on still photographs. The app, first debuted at this year’s SXSW, is designed for use by human rights activists working in high-risk contexts, and by people concerned about the privacy of their videos. In other words, it’s perfect for activists in Bahrain hoping to escape the secret police and for American parents uncomfortable with showing pictures of their young children on Facebook.

The app uses facial-detection technology to automatically capture faces in video and still images; users have the option to either pixelate them, to black out the faces, or to put a Groucho Marx-style funny nose-and-glasses combo over them. All identifying metadata, including GPS info, and phone make/model is stripped as well. Saved videos and photos can automatically be posted to Facebook, Twitter, and any other social networking sites integrated into Android.

According to WITNESS’ Bryan Nunez, ObscuraCam is part of a larger app suite called SecureSmartCam, which is currently competing in the Knight News Challenge. SecureSmartCam is a “suite of mobile media apps designed for activists, journalists, and citizen witnesses. The other app in the suite is InformaCam, which adds an array of smartphone sensor data (GPS, network information, etc.) to the video and images captured. The idea is that this information could be important in cases where the pictures and videos shot with the smartphone are used as legal evidence.”

ObscuraCam can be downloaded here.


For more stories like this, follow @fastcompany on Twitter. Email Neal Ungerleider, the author of this article, here or find him on Twitter and Google+.

[Image: Flickr user Clonny]