D-ID Raises Over $13.5 Million During Pandemic to Protect Privacy

26 May 2020

On April 24, 2020, during the unprecedented pandemic and the impact it had on the market, D-ID raised $13.5 million as part of its Round A fundraising. Led by AXA Ventures, investors in the round included Pitango, Y-Combinator, AI Alliance, Hyundai, Omron, Maverick (U.S.), Mindset, and REDDS. D-ID plans to direct the funds to grow its sales and marketing activities, as well as continue to invest in R&D.

 

What Does D-ID Do?

D-ID uses proprietary software that the company developed to remove key biometric data from pictures and videos. Through anonymization solutions, they protect the individual’s biometric data, which ensures that bad actors cannot misuse the personally identifiable information (PII) contained in images and videos.

D-ID’s Photo Protection solution protects photos from being identified by face recognition technologies while keeping them similar to the human eye. 

D-ID’s Smart Anonymization solution for video anonymizes faces while preserving key attributes (such as gaze direction, age, gender, emotion and more). This enables video analytics operations while protecting privacy, creating a win-win situation. 

 

Why Do Investors Care About Photo Anonymization During a Global Pandemic?

Investors understand that corporations and individuals are in need of video and photo anonymization software, so that they can both protect their customers and users and comply with GDPR and other privacy regulations. While COVID-19 has certainly hurt numerous industries, it has highlighted the need for privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) like that of D-ID. 

“Visual data is being used by an increasing number of companies and services. This includes facial images that contain sensitive biometric data,” said Manish Agarwal, General Partner at AXA Venture Partners. “We have been impressed by the quality of the team at D-ID and they have created a product to safeguard that biometric data, which will go a long way in protecting these companies across the globe.”

Government surveillance is also on the rise. COVID-19 has provided a convenient excuse – as governments want to track and stop the spread of the disease – for governments to increase their surveillance. However, as the New York Times editorial board wrote on May 1, 2020 “governments have a very poor track record of relinquishing new powers once they have them.”

All that footage is going to be stored somewhere, and with it, millions of individual’s PII will be saved on servers, prone to misuse. 

“Protection against surveillance is one of the most sought-after ideas of the 21st century, and we look forward to seeing D-ID fill a glaring gap in the marketplace,” said Rami Kalish General Managing Partner & Co-Founder at Pitango Venture Capital. “Their commitment to global privacy will aim to bolster industries, societies, and our communities.” 

 

Verticals that Need Anonymization & De-Identification

In the automotive industry, driver monitoring systems (DMS) record drivers’ faces from the minute they turn on the engine. While these videos are intended for safety (see NCAP security recommendations) and training purposes, they contain driver PII in every frame. 

CCTV users in many countries are required by law, when requested, to provide copies of the footage to individuals that had their footage captured. This requirement is complex. First, CCTV operators must locate the requested footage, and then engage in a costly, time-consuming process of scrubbing out other individuals in the footage. However, when the video is anonymized, CCTV operators are no longer required to send copies of the footage, since PII has been removed. 

Medical facilities, including hospitals and those running clinical trials, are held to a higher privacy standard than most, given the nature of the information handled by them. For them, anonymizing the individuals’ sensitive information will protect them from violating health care privacy acts. 

Smart cities, media and entertainment ventures, and industries that use video to generate data are also in need of solutions that protect PII.

Across the internet, companies like ClearView, HighQ, and NTechLabs are scraping user photos from social media, and using them to track people. Protesters and members of discriminated groups, including minorities and LGBTQs, are hiding their faces behind masks and umbrellas or avoiding photographers to protect their identity. Social media sites, dating apps, security providers, and device manufacturers need to enable their customers and users to protect their biometric data and anonymize their photos.

 

Our Team and Tech Capabilities 

D-ID was formed by Gil Perry, Sella Blondheim, and Eliran Kuta, three veterans of Israel’s elite 8200 unit. Together, they have focused on building a team of world-class deep learning and computer vision experts. 

In addition to D-ID’s proprietary privacy solutions, D-ID’s team has the top expertise, IP, and knowhow in all Deep Learning techniques, especially when related to faces:  synthesizing, reenactment, and other AI manipulations. 

The team’s advisory board includes:

Prof. Adi Shamir, co-inventor of the RSA algorithm

Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Developer of the Privacy by Design approach.

Richard Purcell, former Chief Privacy Officer of Microsoft

Debra Farber, Privacy lead at Amazon.

Ofer Ben-Noon, Co-Founder & CEO of Argus (acquired by Continental)

Adi Sharabani, Co-Founder & CEO of SkyCure (acquired by Symantec)

David Gorodyansky, Co-founder & CEO of AnchorFree

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