It wasn’t that long ago, that the worst privacy issue we had to fear was someone trying to read a letter through an envelope held up to a bright light source.
With the advent of computers, copiers, scanners, it brought things to a totally different level, especially when computers became able to READ text off paper by using OCR (Optical Character Resolution), and convert it to text that could be emailed, or used in any way you would want to use it electronically, etc.
To raise awareness of this issue, Mr. Sang Mung developed what he calls a “defiant typeface” he calls ZXX., which is a “disruptive typeface”. He named it from the three letter codes that the Library of Congress uses in listings, denoting which language a book is written in. Code “ZXX” is used when there is: “No linguistic content; Not applicable.”
Mr. Mung asked himself “How can we conceal our fundamental thoughts from artificial intelligences and those who deploy them?”, thus ZXX was born. CNN Tech published a full column about ZXX, referring to it as a “surveillance-proof” font. The font typeface can be read by the naked eye, and is actually a combination of four fonts names Camo, False, Noise, and Xed, each using various techniques to confuse and baffle computer OCR software.
The important point to keep in mind, is that this project was undertaken simply to raise awareness about the issue of privacy, not to solve the issue.
What do you think? Try it out yourself. Use the ZXX font and try scanning it. If you don’t have OCR software, you can grab FreeOCR from CNET here.