How real is real? Or is it all fake?

Jason Kottke blog links to an interesting article about a guy submitting a fake, as in computer generated, image and getting his real French ID card.

The photo I submitted for this request is actually a 3D model created on a computer, by means of several different software and techniques used for special effects in movies and in the video game industry. It is a digital image, where the body is absent, the result of an artificial process.

The image corresponds to the official demands for an ID: it is resembling, is recent, and answers all the criteria of framing, light, bottom and contrasts to be observed.

The document validating my french identity in the most official way thus presents today an image of me which is practically virtual, a version of video game, fiction.

The article also links to a different image study, done by, supposedly, Google Street View camera, and then, possibly, manipulated in Photoshop.

I’ve been involved with some regulated industries (like Forex) which require proof of identity and residence, all submitted digitally (via email or web form file upload). There’s always a fair amount of obviously fake images sent in.  But the above two stories beg a question of where does one draw a line.  With the recent technological advances and an increasing reliance on digital ways, how can anybody reliably validate an image as fake or real?

I don’t have an answer, but I think the only way here is to fight fire with fire.  As in use technology to do image analysis, rather than an untrained human eye.  Are there well known or well established tools that can do the job?  Not sure about well known or established, but at least some tools do exist.

Biometric passports coming to Cyprus

Cyprus Mail reports that biometric passports will be implemented in Cyprus later this year:

Parliament also gave the green light to the introduction and implementation of biometric passports as of this autumn.

The new passport will bear the owner’s fingerprints, installed by microchip, eliminating the risk of theft and identity fraud. All passports must be replaced once the system starts operating in October.

The new law contains a clause ensuring that fingerprints will not be used for any other purpose and that this data shall be stored for a period of just 48 hours and then deleted.

Diplomats will be the first to obtain their biometric passports, in early September, followed by the rest of the population in mid-October.

The new passports will cost €70.

See the face behind the comment

I’m glad to say that this blog gets more comments these days than it ever had. This is probably due to several reasons – frequent posting on my side, improved web design of the site, recent comments list on the sidebar, email notifications for replies to your comments, etc. Most of these improvements were introduced via different WordPress plugins.

Today I am adding yet another one, which will, hopefully, bring in even more comments by making the web site a little bit more personal. I’ve installed the Easy Gravatars WordPress plugin, which shows the author’s picture near the comment. Pictures are taken from the web service, which was recently acquired by Automattic – the company making excellent WordPress software and running web service.

If you don’t have an account at Gravatar, no image will be shown near your comments. But if you do, your comments on this site, as well as on any other web site that uses will become more recognizable. So, I suggest you go register and upload the image of yours – it’s really simple, straightforward, and free.

So, let’s see faces now behind all those comments…

P.S. : I mentioned avatars before on this post.