Axis: Securing Privacy When Undertaking Surveillance

Ensuring privacy when undertaking surveillance

Surveillance and privacy don’t seem to be natural bedfellows. However, because the public begins to grasp how surveillance will help with their safety and security, the utilization of surveillance in public places is changing into additional accepted. Whereas privacy has perpetually been a priority within the surveillance industry, public awareness over their rights has been heightened by initiatives like GDPR in Europe and FISMA within the US. As a result, organizations have had to take note and show however they’re safeguarding privacy to not solely protect their brand perception but also go with union laws that specify privacy protections within the workplace. All of this combined is putting additional pressure on organizations to secure their surveillance data.

Ensuring users understand their obligations

Surveillance cameras are a typical sight in public places – in 2016 there have been thought to be nearly 350 million surveillance cameras worldwide – and other people are accepting that they’ll be caught on camera often. In London alone, it’s calculable that voters are recorded on camera around three hundred times day after day, which puts the need to grasp how all this data is processed and keep into perspective.


The organizations capturing the surveillance could also be doing so for a range of reasons – from securing a district against criminal activities through to making sure traffic is running smoothly. Manufacturers and sellers of surveillance cameras will help users stay enlightened on surveillance best practices. This includes a way to properly and ethically use the data collected by surveillance cameras, yet to help them take the mandatory steps to go with local and international privacy regulations.

Enabling compliance through technology

While there are regional nuances in the precise wording of how organizations ought to go with data security and surveillance regulation, primarily it’s there to safeguard people’s human rights by safeguarding their right to privacy. Therefore, it puts in place controls that have to be enforced around the capturing, storing and sharing of video data. Many tools and technologies exist to safeguard people’s privacy throughout the method of viewing, recording and exporting video. The foremost common are dynamic anonymization, permanent masking, and redaction.


Dynamic anonymization: With this method, analytics software is employed to automatically anonymize individuals within the video in real-time as the analytics monitors the actions and movements in an exceeding scene. Should the identities of these captured within the footage be crucial to an investigation, solely authorized personnel will unmask the data to access the video. Not only will this protect people in their right to privacy, but it also covers an organization’s obligations to keep individuals safe – particularly in open, public areas.


Permanent masking: This approach is most typically utilized in environments where the identities of passers-by don’t seem to be relevant to the first aim of the surveillance. Permanent masking provides an additional basic method of protecting people’s privacy by anonymizing everybody in an exceeding video and permanently burning the masking into the video, therefore, there’s no way to undo the masking within the footage. This suggests that while areas may be monitored for things like hazards, footfall counting, or non-human surveillance like traffic monitoring, should somebody have to be compelled to access the footage as a part of an investigation, the identities of those within the video can’t be uncovered. Permanent masking might involve static masking – where there are defined areas of a scene that are permanently masked in the live and recorded video – or dynamic masking, where masking isn’t static but dynamically applied to moving objects in an exceeding scene in living and recorded video.


Redaction: instead of blanket-anonymizing individuals caught on camera, redaction is undertaken once someone’s image has been caught on camera to safeguard the privacy of non-relevant people. this can be most typically used once an organization should share un-anonymized footage, like with law enforcement as a part of an investigation. whereas this method helps organizations shield the privacy of innocent people, it doesn’t safeguard privacy for live video streams.


As well as the above approaches to surveillance privacy protection, some non-visual surveillance technologies naturally lend themselves to identity protection. for instance, thermal cameras are usually utilized in sensitive environments, for instance, patient monitoring in healthcare, therefore individuals may be observed remotely without capturing personal details – one thing that’s required by HIPPA regulation within the US.

Making privacy protection the norm

At Axis, we strive to provide customers with guidance and tools to assist people to secure their video data and safeguard privacy. We encourage organizations to be aware of their responsibilities and create responsible use of data a part of the norm. 

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