P3 Allows Photo Owners To Partially Encrypt Photos On Facebook, Choose Recipients

A research team at the University of Southern California developed a tool that encrypts photos, but only portions of those photos, so that authorized users can still view them.

P3, or Privacy-Preserving Photo Sharing, was unveiled at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems and Design Implementation in Chicago Friday, and USC Viterbi School of Engineering Profs. Antonio Ortega and Ramesh Govindan, creators of P3, said they plan to form a company this summer to market the tool.

Ortega and Govindan said P3 works by removing small amounts of crucial data from photos and encrypting them, sharing only the unencrypted, unrecognizable portion with social services such as Facebook and Flickr, and allowing the owners of the photos to share the encrypted portion with only the photos’ intended recipients.

They added that if entire photos are encrypted, Facebook and Flickr cannot resize them, rendering them unusable, but with P3, this problem is averted, and photos can be resized for viewing on desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones by users who receive the encrypted portions.

P3 also aids photo owners in the process of retaining rights to their photos.

Ortega said in a statement:

Nobody doubts the convenience of cloud-based sharing. The question is whether we can trust third parties to protect our photos from unauthorized distribution or use. With P3, you decide how your photos can be used, without losing the convenience of sharing them on through the cloud.

Readers: Would you be interested in using a tool such as P3?

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