How Do I Handle Video Redaction and Anonymization?
Privacy Compliance is Necessary
Moreover, strong privacy policies also assist companies and organizations in avoiding potential lawsuits. Solid privacy practices will allow companies to possibly prevent any regulatory investigations into their company’s data security. Customers and employees extend their trust to you and help continue the reputational benefits of your company or organization if you can avoid any data security incidents. Without the aid of privacy compliance many businesses and corporations as we know them today would struggle to operate.
In 2017, the US alone experienced 1139 serious data breaches with more than 174,402,528 private data resources exposed to the public. The Identity Theft Resource Center keeps statistics on such yearly breaches. To lose any amount of data for an organization in any context could create a litany of potential issues, including loss of customer trust, loss of employee trust, and staggering amounts in legal fees and regulatory fines. These costs alone could potentially close the door on any business.
Another facet of business that relates to compliance is adherence to international privacy laws. Any person or business entity who sells anything, be it a product or service, anywhere in the European Union must comply with the EU’s privacy rules under the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Comparatively, preparing your company for an international breach is also essential. These data breaches can be caused by hackers or breaches that come from other countries.
According to the Ponemon Institute, 42% of all US corporations are not prepared for an international violation of their data. The Ponemon Institute is a global firm that works for “Advancing Responsible Information Management.” The institute reported that in September 2018, “Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents report that their company experienced one or more endpoint attacks that successfully compromised data assets and IT infrastructure over the past 12 months.”
What is Redaction?
Redaction is a fairly common practice in business, government, and private organizations. The term redaction can apply to different types of data, including text, images, and video. When it comes to textual documents, redaction is a form of editing to be sure that any sensitive or private data is blacked out or unreadable. The practice of redaction has been around since biblical times when scrolls would have specific details removed or hidden.
Lisa Gilbert, the Vice President of Legislative Affairs at Public Citizen, offers this definition for redaction. “Redacting means editing a document to delete or mask information that has been deemed as privileged or confidential. It’s a pretty common practice in legal documents.” As you may have figured out already, the type of redacted data is usually personal, sensitive, classified, medical, or trade secrets. The kind of data or information you likely hesitate to give out to strangers, like your address, account numbers, or social security number.
What is Anonymization?
Unlike redaction, which masks the data from release, data anonymization takes it a step further. Data anonymization uses specialized techniques that are intentionally designed to make it impossible to identify an individual from the data stored. While this method is by no means foolproof, it will make accessing private data extremely difficult. Methods for data anonymization include encryption, hashing, generalization, pseudonymization, and perturbation. These methods can add ‘noise’ or insignificant amounts of data that allows for data mining to help researchers without giving the actual data. Alternatively, there is a process called de-anonymization, a form of reverse-engineering in which entities use other databases to cross-reference to find out the hidden data.
What is Sanitization?
There are further steps that may be taken in an effort to ensure that the data remains private. Data sanitization is the process of removing or destroying information stored in various forms. It removes sensitive data from a document, image, or audio file to share information with others. The intent is to protect privacy, and using sanitization methods is irreversible. If you remove the data entirely, it is no longer available to be found.
How Image Anonymization works
Using a redaction software program designed for image redaction or anonymization is the correct way to remove data from an image. Quality redaction software systems should be able to offer different methods of image anonymization or redaction. Some commonly used effective image redaction methods that work are:
- Pixelation – Pixelation is when software displays a bitmap or a section of a bitmap at such a large image size that individual pixels are visible. Pixels are small single-colored square display elements that make up the bitmap.
- Blurring – Blurring an entire image or section of an image by setting the pixel’s color value to the average of those that comprise the area.
- Replacement – This could be a circle or, more commonly, a square or rectangle covering the area impacted with a solid fill color, usually black.
Keeping video while maintaining privacy
There are many reasons why a company, government agency, or private organization may want to redact a video for privacy reasons but be able to release a viewable version to the public or outside agency. FOIA or Freedom of Information Act requests often bog down government agencies required to follow these federal guidelines. When there is a controversial incident that occurs relating to the police department, the public will often request full transparency.
However, before the video is released to the public’s request, the police department must follow local, state, and federal guidelines for protecting individual privacy. Redacting information from images on a video such as faces, license plates, or other personally identifiable information before it is released is possible. Some agencies may think otherwise or feel bogged down with redaction costs. Manually redacting a short 20-minute video could take several hours. Today, there are ways to reduce this cost and the time spent on redaction.
Redaction and video editing programs as a software service can be affordable. These programs can blur or pixelate faces or other data from any video. Quality redaction software often includes intelligent features, smart algorithms, and an intuitive design and user interface. Redaction software should be easy to use for new software users to experienced video specialists. Look for redaction software that includes artificial intelligence that can automatically track faces or other objects. The time saved and the automation of accurate redaction will reduce the department’s administrative costs.