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Signal Adds Face Blurring Tool to Protect User Privacy

Privacy-focused communications application Signal this week announced a new feature meant to enhance user privacy amid social turmoil in the United States: a blur tool.

Privacy-focused communications application Signal this week announced a new feature meant to enhance user privacy amid social turmoil in the United States: a blur tool.

Over the past couple of weeks, people in the United States and elsewhere have marched and protested against racism and police brutality, following the recent police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Signal, in support of the “people who have gone into the streets to make their voices heard” and who are using the end-to-end encryption application for communication, is providing the new blur feature to all those looking to cover their faces in photos.

The service has seen an increase in traffic recently and says it is working hard to keep up with it, but that it is also looking for additional ways to support everyone in the streets right now.

The new blur feature in the latest versions of Signal for Android and iOS is one step the service is taking in this direction. Available in the image editor, the functionality is meant to help protect the privacy of the people in the photos shared over Signal.

“Now it’s easy to give every face a hiding place, or draw a fuzzy trace over something you want to erase. Simply tap on the new blur tool icon to get started,” the company notes.

The feature is using the latest system and platform-level libraries for Android and iOS, and all of the photo processing happens on the user device, to maintain their privacy,

However, because these libraries can’t detect every face 100% of the time, Signal also provides an option for users to draw with the blur brush, thus manually obscuring additional faces or areas in a photo.

Outside of the application, Signal is looking to start distributing versatile face coverings, free of charge, and has been working to find a manufacturer to produce these in high volume.

Related: Signal PINs Allow Users to Recover Data When Switching Phones

Related: Signal Rushes to Patch Serious Eavesdropping Vulnerability

Related: Hackers Disrupt Minneapolis Systems, But No Evidence of Breach

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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