Solving Video and Audio Privacy Problems with Redaction Software

Solving Video and Audio Privacy Problems with Redaction Software

 

For a variety of reasons and in any number of different industries, video and audio footage are gathered and used for many different reasons. Whether you are working with law enforcement, a lawyer, or are simply using footage gathered on the ground for a news story or an advertisement, you are required to ensure the privacy of individuals and their personal information that may be used to identify a given individual. Not everything captured in a video or audio clip is relevant to what the material is being used for and people have privacy rights that must be adhered to. It’s not just common courtesy, it’s the law.

Every day countless amounts of information are gathered from private individuals without their notice or agreement. It could simply be a smartphone video that someone plans to use for a video blog post, or perhaps it is dashcam evidence in a criminal case. Regardless of what material is gathered and what it is intended to be used for, the onus is on the user to ensure that anyone who is not relevant to a video, case, etc.has their identity protected.

It might not seem like it is a very big deal. People are inadvertently captured on film, video, and audio recording equipment all the time. The thing is, even with all these new means of capturing audio, video, and pictures, there are still laws in place that require people who use this material to ensure the privacy of unintended people captured on the film or audio. It is less of an issue for the video blogger, though it could lead to some issues. It is a more important issue when it comes to business and law enforcement.

 

Privacy Problems Presented by Video and Audio Capture

The advent of any number of easy and convenient ways to capture film and audio has created a whole new world for many areas of industry. Cameras and audio recording equipment are now everywhere. Just think of all the smartphones and tablets that people carry with them every day and that is just the beginning. There are cameras on streets, in stores, private buildings, etc. This leads to the massive proliferation of private and personal information being gathered, intentionally and unintentionally.

Let’s just use law enforcement as an example. Say there was some sort of protest that went bad. Law enforcement officers equipped with body cams are on the scene and arrest an individual who is suspected of damaging property. The individual is apprehended and their body cameras are requested for use in the criminal trial against the individual. So far, so good. The thing is, the body cam footage also captured the images and voices of countless individuals that are not of interest in this case. By law, their identity needs to be protected.

Personally identifying information such as someone's face, tattoos, or other identifying features must be redacted, in this case, it means that their faces and other identifying features will be blurred out so their identity is protected. This also includes people's voices. These will need to be redacted or removed to ensure the privacy of individuals present at the action but not facing criminal proceedings.

While this is a more extreme case, it gives a good illustration of why it is vital to make sure that any film or audio footage you plan on using for a giving activity ensures the privacy protection of the innocent and irrelevant people who may have been captured in the video or audio recording process.

We accidentally capture people's license plate numbers, their home addresses, and other bits of information that we are required, by law, to ensure it is protected. It goes beyond just people's faces and voices, all their private or personally identifiable information needs to be kept safe and secure.

 

Redaction Software for Video and Voice

Manual ways of redacting video and audio are tricky and not necessarily the most effective means of ensuring compliance with the privacy laws. Human error is a big problem and with today's technology, there are too many bits of data on the back-end of video and audio that even surface redaction is not necessarily enough to ensure that someone's privacy is maintained. Several automated video and audio redaction tools will help streamline the process and reduce or eliminate the issues related to human error.

As we just noted, there are tons of different options for video and audio redaction software. The real differences are in the interface, user-friendliness, and additional features. The best video redaction software allows you to easily automate the redaction process in a way that will make privacy compliance a lot simpler. These programs will often have automatic detection of faces that will allow you to blur out anyone who is either not relevant or needs protection. There are other parameters you can define that will let you take your redaction a little deeper, blurring out tattoos, clothing, or anything else that might give away the identity of a protected individual.

The best video redaction software should also allow you to remove any audio that may give private information about innocent or protected people away. Most often, the audio will either be muted or it will be distorted so that the person’s voice cannot be recognized, even if it can still be understood. Using automated software like this can cut the amount of time spent redacting video and audio files by well over half. Not only does this save valuable time, but it also saves money, which is a win-win for any business.

AI and machine learning have come a long way, allowing for the creation of smarter, more efficient software that lets you follow the proper laws for compliance, consent, and privacy, without it taking a ton of time and money to make possible. Gone are the days when law enforcement or lawyer’s assistants had to spend a ton of time manually redacting video and audio clips to ensure compliance. Video redaction software uses powerful AI to automatically gather face, audio, or other identifying information and allow you to blur out or otherwise obfuscate anyone in the video or audio that is not relevant or is accorded privacy protection under the law.

There are several different ways to interface with this type of software, depending on what you ultimately choose. It works with almost all types of video and audio files, even older ones from before the days of the internet and smartphones. Some software will be installed directly onto a specific machine where it can only be accessed there. Other software utilizes cloud storage which we don't recommend. We have discussed why we don't recommend cloud based video redaction in a previous article "Why Cloud-Based Redaction is Not Adequate for Video Redaction". Redaction software should be easy to use, which gives more people the ability to handle the redaction process whereas in the past you would have needed special, technical skills to be able to properly edit files of this nature.

It should also be noted that redaction software does more than just blur images and obfuscate audio that may be protected under law. It also takes care of back-end metadata that might be visible to internet programs that are designed to capture this type of information. Today, surface redaction is no longer enough, there is still identifying information contained in the back-end data that must also be redacted and protected.

 

Summary

There are so many different ways that we inadvertently capture people’s faces, their voices, or other bits of information that must be protected if we are to comply with basic privacy laws. Video and audio footage are gathered and used in any number of industries for any number of reasons. With all this personal information floating around, it is more important than ever before to ensure that you are following the proper privacy, consent, and compliance laws that are designed to protect the identity and privacy of individuals.

Video and audio redaction software takes what used to be a complicated and time-consuming process and make it simple and straightforward, and it also takes a fraction of the time. Redaction software utilizes AI to automatically detect faces, voices, and other pieces of identifying information such as license plates and addresses, making it simple to blur them out and keep their privacy protected. It goes beyond just surface redaction, ensuring that all metadata and back-end code are also scrubbed of any identifying information.

This helps ensure that people in all industries can easily comply with privacy laws and have confidence that all innocent or irrelevant individuals have their privacy maintained. It is more cost- and time-effective, reducing significantly the amount of time spent in the redacting process as well as the costs associated with this process. You can now ensure that all audio and video files are properly redacted and have the peace of mind that no mistakes were made and even the back-end information has been rendered private. Not only does this save you time and money, but it also saves you from the hassle that can result from a failure to properly comply with privacy laws.