YouTube introduces face-blurring technology
Rioters will be able to hide their identities in video footage they post online after Google introduced new face-blurring technology.
The tool, unveiled by Google-owned video website YouTube, will allow human faces to be blurred automatically, raising the prospect that offences filmed and uploaded might go unpunished.
Dozens of clips were posted on the site during last summer’s disorder that spread across the country from London.
One of the defining videos showed a group of men robbing Malaysian student Ashraf Rossli while pretending to help him. The incident was filmed on a smartphone and submitted to YouTube. His attackers were jailed earlier this year.
However, Google said the development would protect human rights activists and campaigners who would face punitive action if they were shown to the authorities in videos of protests.
Users have welcomed the addition, saying it will help save lives in countries like Egypt, Libya and Syria.
YouTube added footage of fighting in Syria had risked identifying rebel fighters resisting the Assad regime.
"Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your eight-year-old's basketball game without broadcasting the children's faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube," the company said in a blog post.
"YouTube is proud to be a destination where people worldwide come to share their stories, including activists.”
The new feature of the video-sharing website will allow users the option to “blur all faces” and hide the identities of those on film.
YouTube will then create an original and a blurred copy of the video and users can decide which to public. If the unblurred video is deleted, it will be removed from Google’s servers, it was reported.
Writing on the site, Amanda Conway, policy associate at YouTube, said: "As citizens continue to play a critical role in supplying news and human rights footage from around the world, YouTube is committed to creating even better tools to help them.