Google has announced that two of its latest privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs), including one that blurs objects in video, will be made available for free to anyone via open source.

The new tools are part of Google’s “Protected Computing” initiative. The company says it is designed to “change how, when and where data is processed to technically ensure its privacy and safety”.

The first is an in-house project called Magritte, which is now published on Github and which uses machine learning to detect objects and apply blur as soon as they appear on the screen. It can mask arbitrary objects like license plates, tattoos, etc.

“This code is especially useful for video journalists who want to provide increased privacy assurances. By using this open-source code, videographers can save time in blurring objects from a video, while knowing that the underlying ML algorithm can perform detection across a video with high-accuracy”,


Google wrote in the blog.

The other, called the Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE) Transpiler, allows developers to perform computations on encrypted data without access to identifiable information. Google says it can help industries such as financial services, healthcare and government, where reliable security assurance around the handling of sensitive data is of the utmost importance.

Google also noted that this year the US and UK governments are running a competition to develop PETs solutions for financial crime and public health emergencies.

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