How Important Is Your Privacy to You?

How Important Is Your Privacy to You?

In today’s society, it is almost impossible to send out information without the fear of sensitive data being exposed. This includes your face in videos, the content of what is being spoken in audio, or any written Personal Identification Information (PII) that could potentially put you at risk for identity theft.

If you have a social security number, bank account, social media, email, or even an address and phone number, you have to be wise about how and to whom you share that information with. It is also essential to be aware that just because you secure your information well does not mean you have no risk of a breach of privacy.

For a quality life in this society, you must share your personal data with your hospital, bank teller, schools, and employers, which means you are not always in control of where your data is stored and could potentially end up. What can you do to reassure yourself you won’t fall victim to security breaches?

Redaction and privacy

As an individual, securing your data looks similar across the board; practices like keeping your personal documents such as birth certificate, passport, social security card, and more in a secure place is one. Using dual authentication, having more than one way to prove your identity before accessing information, to protect your different accounts is another. Even ensuring your passwords are strong and complex shows a step in the right direction in improving your security.

You, like most, probably have a lot of personal information stored on your phone, whether it is PII or not, that you do not want others to access. The use of facial recognition to unlock your phone or log into specific accounts has helped everyone feel more secure about where they put their personal data. These practices and more are the extents to which we go to secure our data; it would be deeply disappointing to find out that the agencies you trust don’t take the same measures to secure your data as well.

Is Your Privacy Important to Others?

Agencies, organizations, and all businesses alike are always accepting your information in order to provide you and everyone else with a service to improve our overall quality of life. You won’t be able to apply for a job without providing your social security numbers and bank account information.

Additionally, you are not likely to make a doctor’s appointment if you don’t provide your name, address, birth date, or unique identifying numbers to verify your coverage. However, do you stop to ask what your trusted providers are doing to keep your data as secure as you keep it?

Schools, hospitals, banks, phone companies, social media platforms, and more all have requirements they must comply with in order to secure your information. They have to ensure your information is encrypted, have detailed processes for access control, consistently monitor your data for any suspicious activity, and use advanced technologies to help prevent fraud.

They have rules and regulations to follow as well, including Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), Telecommunications Act, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), respectively, which grants you the legal right to control how your data is used and allow you to take legal action if need be.

These legal actions can result in high consequences for the agencies facing them, which is why there are background checks when hiring for positions, procedures to follow when working with sensitive data, and constant security testing and improvements.

Even with all these measures taken, there can be a time when some information and its content is needed to be presented, but it is layered and surrounded by PII that can potentially put someone’s privacy at risk. Fortunately, there is an answer to that, redacting.

Document Redaction

Apart from asking places of service about their privacy policy, you can also ask about their data protection measures. This can include the physical security of your data, but it also includes redacting sensitive information if your data is ever shared or sent out. Have you ever noticed that when places of business confirm your social security via mail, online, or over the phone, they usually redact the first seven digits of your social security?

Redacting is the act of removing or obscuring data to protect your privacy. It is so essential that the same rules and regulations that businesses must follow have redaction listed as a requirement. It generally states that certain types of information have to be redacted before it is released to the public.

This means the public should be able to look through the documents that are released and gather the necessary knowledge without being able to identify specific individuals. Sounds easy, right? Well, it can be with the proper redaction software, but not everyone sees the importance of it until it’s too late; ask Paul Manafort and his 2019 mishap.

Who Should Perform the Redaction

You might now be asking yourself, who exactly should perform those redactions? The short answer is, everyone! Schools should properly redact the faces of students from surveillance footage when needed. Law enforcement should redact innocent bystanders’ faces when a crime scene is being investigated and shared with the public.

Lawyers, hospitals, airports, call centers, casinos, retail, and all places of businesses should be redacting documents in order to protect citizens and their intellectual property to avoid sensitive information being disseminated. Prior to sending any assets containing PII or other sensitive data, it’s important for you to redact relevant information.

Bad Redaction

There is such a thing as bad redaction. For documents and images, the old black Sharpies trick will not stand a chance against today’s advanced technology. We can easily reveal the content behind the “blacked out” information using the photo application on our smartphones.

Making this option no longer safe and reliable. There is bad redaction in video and audio as well; with the combination of heavy use of manual redacting tools and redacting software that cannot handle large or multiple amounts of data, redacting correctly can be difficult.

Human error or software crashes can leave sensitive information left un-redacted unintentionally. It can be difficult for a person to redact everything necessary without feeling a bit overwhelmed, which is understandable considering that they must listen and watch hours and hours of footage to do so.

Traits of a Great Redaction Tool

Knowing what can go wrong when redacting helps us easily recognize what a good redaction tool looks like. Because manually redacted assets are prone to a lot of human error, the first and most important feature for a redaction software to have is the option to automate your redactions. This can look something like being able to redact all faces from all angles with a few clicks and being able to intervene only when needed manually.

The automating tool should also have more options than faces and heads because videos can reveal other identifying items, such as your vehicle and the license plate. If the video takes place indoors or inside a vehicle, it should also be able to automatically redact screens which include monitors, in-car screens or laptops, and even your phone.

automatic face, screen and license plates redaction

It’s easy to think of videos having the option to automate their redactions, but is it possible to automate when redacting documents? Yes, it is! A great redaction tool will provide options for redacting PII automatically. This includes names, dates of birth, phone numbers, addresses, social security numbers, and even profanity.

Imagine being in a predicament where you have to redact specific words, and they are not considered PII. Of course, you always have the option of manually redacting, but there should be advanced features available to make that easier.

One example is the ability to build your own list of words that the system will always revise and redact. That, combined with automatically redacting PII, means 90% of your work is already finished. Maybe the reverse is a problem; what if you want only certain PII to be redacted, it would be helpful to have a sort of “block” list in order to avoid redacting PII you want to leave visible such as a name or phone number.

A great redaction software should be able to perform based on the needs of its users because redacting information from vast amounts of data is not always straightforward. Having features that cater to your needs makes the process less time-consuming. But of course, as most software do, there will be updates, bugs, or something you may need to troubleshoot. It is important to have easy access to support, training, or informative articles that can easily guide you through how to resolve any issues that may arise.

Playing Your Role

We’ve outlived the days when our only access to news is the daily papers, and all our records are only kept on paper. With our data being shared virtually anywhere, it is no surprise that security measures have grown, and so have the people that want to breach it. Do not be afraid to ask how the businesses that have your information protect your privacy and the data protection measures they take.

If your information is ever being shared, ask what redaction method was used. Did they redact manually by hand or with software? Do they utilize a redaction software that prioritizes redaction and uses AI features like CaseGuard Studio, or did they use software that only has redaction as a secondary feature, like Adobe? These are important questions because they can reveal the quality of the redaction used to protect you. Your safety and privacy are essential, don’t be afraid to take action to secure them.

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