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Photo Privacy Tool Developed At USC May Make Photo-Sharing Safer

Lauren Madow |
April 5, 2013 | 10:26 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

With P3, you may be less likely to see your drunk selfie on a Times Square billboard (Brent Ozar, Flickr)
With P3, you may be less likely to see your drunk selfie on a Times Square billboard (Brent Ozar, Flickr)
A research team from USC's Computer Science Department has developed a tool that will increase users' ability to keep their photos private, even when stored in third party cloud services, reported Techhive

The tool, known as P3 (short for "Privacy-Preserving Photo Sharing"), will ensure that personal photos stored on Facebook, Flickr, Google, and other sites can be accessed only by users. Ph.D candidate Moo-Ryong Ra and professors Ramesh Govindan and Antonio Ortega of the Viterbi School of Engineering sought to address users' concerns that site administrators or hackers might use photos for their own purposes. 

"To address these concerns," wrote the research group, "we propose a privacy-preserving photo encoding algorithm that extracts and encrypts a small, but significant, component of the photo, while preserving the remainder in a public, standards-compatible, part." P3 requires no change to existing software or mobile apps, added the group.

The advent of P3 comes just months after the photo-sharing service Instagram, owned by Facebook, caved to public pressure regarding a proposed privacy policy last December. The policy would have given Instagram the right to use members' photos in ads and for sale to third parties. The proposal elicited a reaction from users so strong that it rescinded the idea.

Learn more about P3 and what if offers here.

Reach Executive Producer Lauren Madow here. Follow her here.



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