23 Oct 2018

Editor Introduction

There is no expectation of privacy in a public space. That’s the premise on which most video surveillance applications are justified. But new concerns about privacy, specifically the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, are changing expectations. And what if a camera must be positioned where a private area happens to be within its range? Fortunately, there are technology approaches to solving these dilemmas, as our Expert Panellists explain. We asked: What new technologies are helping video systems overcome concerns about privacy?

Francis Lachance Genetec, Inc.

Many privacy concerns regarding video systems have to do with basic concepts that, in our view, should be offered as standard with any video management platform. These include authorisation, authentication and strong encryption to ensure that users can implement processes that protect individuals’ data and make it available only when necessary. Under the European privacy legislation, GDPR, an individual has the right to their own data and to be forgotten. So, video systems must provide a way to provide and delete data on demand, given the right authorisation. Furthermore, additional tools can help to comply to GDPR. New technologies can now anonymise or blur a person to hide their identity in a video feed. Only authorised users can access the original video on demand, which remains highly encrypted. Further, redaction tools provide a way to export data with all faces blurred, while preserving the image of the person of interest.

Tightening of legislation, such as the EU’s GDPR, has seen the storage and use of CCTV footage coming under closer scrutiny as individuals are given greater protection for their privacy. A key way to protect the individual’s “right to be forgotten” is the use of blocking pixels technology to hide their identity in footage. This technology has been around for some time, but naturally it has come to the fore with the enforcement of GDPR and similar legislation. With the liability firmly on organisations that capture CCTV, and substantial fines in place for breaking the rules, it’s never been more important to embrace this technology. Greater use of AI systems in the future will make it easier and more convenient for security operators to monitor facilities and maintain safety and security, identifying suspicious activity or criminal suspects, whilst ensuring the privacy of the individual is fully respected.

Joe Oliveri Johnson Controls, Inc.

Advanced CCTV capabilities and IP-based solutions allow building and facility owners to gather an unprecedented amount of data and video footage. The challenges of finding a secure way to aggregate, process and store this abundance of data remain. To help protect these valuable assets and mitigate potential risks, it’s important for organisations to invest in appropriate technologies, which means investing in the right security partner is as equally as important. Their expertise can help offer CCTV platforms with end-to-end data encryption – for both inbound and outbound data – and ensure GDPR compliance through routine audits and data processing controls. A skilled security partner can then integrate access control solutions to only allow access to the data to those with permission. In addition, they can make sure stored data is masked, so people who need access to the data can be prevented from also obtaining any personally identifiable information (PII).

CCTV cameras and systems have included technologies such as window blanking for decades where the operator manually indicates where windows were and to blank them out for monitoring or recording. Whilst this protects view into a private domicile, newer privacy push is about protecting individual privacy out in public spaces as well. This can be achieved by blurring license plates or faces with an applied algorithm which police and other similar bodies can selectively unblur as required and approved by the policy of procedures set up. This application of intelligent video content analysis can mean windows, license plates and faces can now be recognised automatically without the need for complex configuration steps.

Editor Summary

GDPR is changing the rules on privacy, and video manufacturers are responding with new approaches to ensure privacy concerns are addressed. Technology to blur certain areas in an image have been around for decades, but privacy approaches today must be broader and more flexible to meet changing industry needs and public expectations.