Suppressing Gender and Age in Face Templates Using Incremental Variable Elimination
Recent research on soft-biometrics showed that more information than just the person's identity can be deduced from biometric data. Using face templates only, information about gender, age, ethnicity, health state of the person, and even the sexual orientation can be automatically obtained. Since for most applications these templates are expected to be used for recognition purposes only, this raises major privacy issues. Previous work addressed this problem purely on image level regarding function creep attackers without knowledge about the systems privacy mechanism. In this work, we propose a soft-biometric privacy enhancing approach that reduces a given biometric template by eliminating its most important variables for predicting soft-biometric attributes. Training a decision tree ensemble allows deriving a variable importance measure that is used to incrementally eliminate variables that allow predicting sensitive attributes. Unlike previous work, we consider a scenario of function creep attackers with explicit knowledge about the privacy mechanism and evaluated our approach on a publicly available database. The experiments were conducted to eight baseline solutions. The results showed that in many cases IVE is able to suppress gender and age to a high degree with a negligible loss of the templates recognition ability. Contrary to previous work, which is limited to the suppression of binary (gender) attributes, IVE is able, by design, to suppress binary, categorical, and continuous attributes.