With the proliferation of smartphones that can capture video anytime, anyplace, to surveillance equipment for the state, or body cameras on police officers, videos of average citizens are everywhere. The potential to inadvertently capture someone on video, thus invading their privacy, is a real concern for people in many areas of business today. How can we use the technology at our disposal without negatively infringing on the personal rights of innocent citizens who happen to be present? How can we ensure that something like an individual citizen's license plate number is not left for all to see?
This is why so many industries, from media and entertainment to the state and law enforcement, make use of what is called video redaction software as a way to ensure the privacy of innocent people who may show up on a given video for whatever reason. It goes beyond just protecting the identity of individuals, though, it also includes protecting their private information such as home address, license plate number, or any other identifying information.
What is Video Redaction Software?
Video redaction software is a suite of software tools that are designed to remove any identifying features from innocent individuals in a particular video. This includes blurring out faces, but may also involve blurring out tattoos, or other bodily features that may make it easier to identify an innocent person in a video. As noted in the introduction, this goes beyond just people and their personally identifying features. People’s addresses, license plate numbers, even computer screens and other sensitive information that may be captured on video must also be protected. It isn’t just about right and wrong; it is the law.
The video redaction software should automatically scan video footage and blurs out faces, features, or other bits of information that might need to be protected if used in a court of law or to protect the privacy of the public more generally. With the use of sophisticated AI, video redaction software can render a video properly redacted in a fraction of the time it used to take for human users to do the same thing. It is effective and many of the software suites have a range of features that allow you to go deeper when it comes to protecting identity.
Who Needs Video Redaction Software?
There are obvious industries that utilize video redaction software, most notably law enforcement and the state. Video evidence is often imperative for obtaining a conviction and bringing criminals to justice. This video is collected in a range of ways, from surveillance cameras, smartphone video, closed-circuit cameras, and even police body camera video. Video evidence is often vital in a court of law for any number of types of cases. It is also incredibly important for a wide range of compliance reporting and project tracking.
However, it isn’t just law enforcement and the state that need to worry about protecting the identity of the innocent. The media is another area of industry that can make very good use of video redaction software to stay in compliance with personal privacy protections. Video footage from protests, rallies, or even just stock footage of a city street, can have information contained within it that must be protected. The faces of innocent bystanders or people unassociated with the event in question can be blurred out and their privacy protected.
License plate numbers or even home addresses are often inadvertently captured during routine filming and this information needs to be protected. This may also be the case of footage taken within an office or home where computer screens, pieces of mail, or other personal information is likely to be present. Media institutions have a legal responsibility to ensure that nobody is put at undue risk in the process of reporting on a story.
While these are obvious areas of industry where this is an issue, these are not the only segments of industry that need to ensure compliance with personal privacy laws. Marketers capturing video for commercial purposes, the use of stock footage in advertisements, and more, must still be used following personal privacy laws. This puts the onus on the industry to ensure that all video footage used in the course of their business complies with these laws.
For people in any industry that requires sifting through a massive amount of video data will find video redaction software a great tool at their disposal. Huge amounts of video can be processed with incredible speed and accuracy. This makes dealing with a massive amount of video surveillance that is to be used in a given case much easier and it takes far less time than when this had to be done manually.
How Does Video Redaction Software Work?
Some video redaction software available in the market today utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning. This allows for a smart, automated process that can often work in real-time, which is a great element for anyone who is broadcasting live. Video redaction software should be automated, which makes the process of redaction incredibly simple, time-saving, and a lot more effective. You can cut the amount of time it takes to redact a video significantly, while also reducing the likelihood of human error, which is an ongoing concern. Automated video redaction software like this has taken something that used to require hours of human labor and made it more efficient, effective, and much more affordable than ever before.
Some vendors allow you to purchase and download a suite of powerful software tools that you can use anytime, anywhere. Other vendors provide their services online (cloud-based redaction), meaning you don’t have to download any software to use these services but rather upload your video evidence to their server. There are a lot of issues with the cloud-based redaction but the most important ones are the chain of custody of your evidence and the fact that you’re uploading an evidence material to someone else servers. We’ve written another article discussing the on-going problems with cloud-based video redaction titled “Why Cloud-Based Redaction is Not Adequate for Video Redaction”.
Video redaction software should work with a wide range of types of video, from video taken from a smartphone, a police body camera, or even an old school analog video. There are levels of redaction depending on what the video is to be used for. For example, in the event of using a video in a court of law, video redaction software can be used to help obscure the movements of others to focus on the individual under suspicion. Some features will help you to highlight important elements of the video that need greater attention. Video redaction software is incredibly sophisticated and comes with a range of different options and levels of detail.
Your video redaction software should also scrub any unnecessary audio or help to bring it to the forefront to be heard more easily. This process also allows you to preserve the original evidence files for posterity or in case they are needed in future litigation or other circumstances.
Automatic redaction software goes deeper than manual redaction makes possible. As you likely know, there is a lot of information on the back-end of any type of file and a video is no exception. Even a video where faces have been blurred may contain personally identifiable information in the metadata or the back-end code of the video. Video redaction software should go beyond simply just blurring faces and voices. It should also scrub all metadata and back-end code of any information that may need to be protected.
Law enforcement, the state, private businesses, and even individual YouTube personalities, have a responsibility to ensure that innocent people have their privacy protected in an age where cameras of all sorts are more ubiquitous than ever before. Video footage from surveillance cameras, body cameras, and even personal smartphones, can be a huge help to law enforcement looking to keep us safe. Video from protests or celebrations in the streets allows us to have a front-row seat for potentially history making events. It gives an opportunity to "be there" even when we cannot be physically present. However, this also leaves untold numbers of people at risk of having their identity compromised online or even in the real world.
Video redaction software is designed to protect the identity of innocent and unconnected people who may be caught up in video footage of a given incident, as well as the privacy of their personal information. Video redaction software should easily and thoroughly ensure that all innocent bystanders’ faces are blurred, helping to keep their identity safe. By blurring out faces, tattoos, or any other identifying markers an individual may carry, they are protected against invasions of privacy while still allowing law enforcement and industry to conduct their business in the way of the 21st century.
Even content creators on the internet such as bloggers, activists, and even YouTube personalities have a responsibility to ensure that people’s privacy is protected in the course of doing one’s work. This used to be a lot harder than it is now, with the advent of a myriad of easy-to-use tools that effectively and quickly remove identifying features and faces from the video as a means to ensure the privacy of all involved.