Why protests are becoming increasingly facelessAugust 25, 2019
Some wear flimsy medical masks and swimming goggles, others heavy-duty respirators and protective glasses. All are covering their faces to protect themselves not only from police tear gas — but also to obscure their identities.
But Hong Kong’s protesters aren’t the only ones worried about protecting their identities.
Activists, designers and artists around the world are inventing creative ways to avoid detection.
As state surveillance becomes more advanced — and widely used — wearable technology has been proposed as a way to thwart monitoring systems.
A protester wearing a mask during anti-government protests, which began in response to a proposed extradition law, in Tai Po, Hong Kong, on August 10, 2019. Credit: Miguel Candela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Fighting technology with technology
In some countries, there were internet black outs. In others, widespread censorship.
A woman wears Backslash’s smart bandana. According to the concept’s designers, different messages can be unlocked depending on which way the bandana is folded. Credit: Backslash.cc
The kit also features a wearable device that alerts fellow demonstrators to the presence of police, and a stencil that creates graffiti “tags” — readable only by an app — to inform protesters when an area is under surveillance.
But the kits are not for sale. Instead, Oliveira and Chen hoped to start a dialogue about what they see as an increasing power imbalance between authorities and demonstrators.
“We didn’t feel that these should be offered to protesters as a…