SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — YouTube has introduced a new feature that will let its users blur the faces of people in videos they post.

Probably the most common example of why you’d want to do that during  instances where activists could face repercussions for their actions, especially in certain parts of the world where the consequences could be deadly.

Or maybe a parent just wants to video their kid’s soccer game, but they only want to document the action and keep the kid’s anonymity. This would also save time from asking permission from the other parents before posting.

KCBS Tech Report:

But you have to be the person posting the video in order to have the ability to blur out the video. In other words, if you’re simply a viewer, you don’t have that kind of control.

There’s a general principle in law and social networking that the person who posts essentially has the right to do the blurring.

The new function works pretty easily, but it’s far from foolproof. YouTube can’t guarantee that they’ll get all of the faces. They use technology that will ID the face, but it depends on the lighting, the camera angle and other factors.

Another thing that I noticed from being on the board of the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children, that things in the background can sometimes be identified. Oftentimes when law enforcement conducts a child pornography investigation and looks at pictures, they see blurred out images of the victim and the perpetrator. But there could be a t-shirt, a newspaper, or a mug from a local store in the background that could serve as a lead.

People should be aware that there are other ways of identifying one another besides a face.

I do think this is a potentially life-saving function given the fact that YouTube is used by activists and journalists in places such as the Middle East and China.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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