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Head of product & marketing, Hanwha Techwin Europe

April 30, 2019


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GDPR and video surveillance: How to de-identify data subjects

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has spurred organisations in all market sectors to address how they record, store and protect customer-related data since it came into force almost a year ago.

This is perhaps unsurprising, as a serious violation of GDPR could be subject to a fine of up to 4% of a company’s annual revenue or €20m, whichever is higher. In addition, non-compliance could result in class actions or a civil lawsuits against individuals.

Hanwha Techwin recently asked its country managers across Europe to report on the impact of GDPR on how video surveillance systems are managed. In particular, we asked them to consider which of the following aspects of how video is recorded and stored might be causing end-user clients the most concern in terms of compliance:

  • Right of access
  • Storage time limitation
  • De-identification
  • Data security/password protocols
  • Firmware encryption
  • Transmission protocols

Despite cultural differences in attitudes towards GDPR across Europe, the issue of de-identification stood out head and shoulders above others in terms of importance. This is because the regulation stipulates that any person whose image is captured by a video surveillance system has the right to be supplied with a copy of their personal data related to the footage.

However, the identity of other individuals who feature in the recorded video needs to be protected.

De-identification in action: S-COP video masking software from Hanwha Techwin

Complying with the right of access might cause owners some inconvenience, but it’s not a difficult thing to do. Some manufacturers, including Hanwha Techwin, offer video recorders and video management software (VMS) with a wide range of search facilities to help operators quickly locate specific recorded video. These include keyword, calendar, time-slice search and face recognition options.

Protecting the data of and de-identifying people in a video clip other than the person requesting access has, until recently, seemed a much bigger challenge. However, necessity has become the mother of invention, with recently developed video masking software providing a highly effective method of redacting faces from video in order to comply with GDPR.

Choosing the right masking software

With a number of software development companies offering video masking solutions, it would be wise to check your preferred option will not allow exported redacted video to be misused or tampered with. It should therefore offer password protection, the ability to limit number of views and access times, as well as an automatic destruction option.

Some video masking software can be configured to apply a user-defined watermark to the exported video file and will allow removal or editing of audio tracks to further protect a person’s privacy.

It would also be advisable to consider buying video masking software, such as the S-COP application available through Hanwha Techwin, which provides an option to utilise Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology to encode a redacted video so that it can only be viewed by those entitled to do so. Unlike .AVI files which can be viewed by anyone on a PC which has Windows Media Player installed, DRM encoded video can only be viewed via a password protected dedicated video player software.

Looking to the future, there is no doubt that advanced forms of face detection and face recognition software which utilise emerging Deep Learning technology will provide a range of powerful tools to ensure compliance with GDPR, whilst efficiently resolving any privacy issues and potential conflict with the Regulation by using face recognition for security or business intelligence purposes.  In the meantime, video masking software provides a readily available, easy to use and affordable option.

Do you have some questions about how GDPR applies to video surveillance systems? Email Uri Guterman at [email protected].

Hanwha Techwin Europe is exhibiting at IFSEC International 2019, taking place 18-20 June 2019 at ExCeL London (stand IF1310). Book your free ticket now.

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