Video Privacy Mask Tutorial

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Feb 27, 2018

Privacy has historically been hotly debated in the surveillance industry, especially in public surveillance systems where cameras may be located in residential areas. This is becoming even a greater concern as the EU implements the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Privacy masks are a feature widely supported in cameras and some VMSes that aims to improve privacy. In this tutorial, we explain:

  • Opaque vs translucent pixelated masks
  • Shapes of masks allowed
  • PTZ camera masking
  • Static vs dynamic masks
  • Camera vs server side masks
  • Analytics for privacy masking
  • Removable camera masks
  • Risks of blocking usable video
  • Bandwidth reduction

********** ************ **** ***** debated ** *** ************ industry, ********** ** ****** surveillance ******* ***** ******* may ** ******* ** residential *****. **** ** becoming **** * ******* concern ** *** ** implements *** ******* **** ********** Regulation (****)

******* ***** *** * feature ****** ********* ** cameras *** **** ***** that **** ** ******* privacy. ** **** ********, we *******:

  • ****** ** *********** ********* masks
  • ****** ** ***** *******
  • *** ****** *******
  • ****** ** ******* *****
  • ****** ** ****** **** masks
  • ********* *** ******* *******
  • ********* ****** *****
  • ***** ** ******** ****** video
  • ********* *********

[***************]

********

******* ***** ******* ********* from ******* ***** **** should *** ** *********. There *** *** ***** **** these ***** *** ********:

  • ******:** **** *****, ** opaque ***/******* ** ***** over *** **** ** be ******, ********* ****** as * ***** *****. No ******** ** ******* may ** **** ** the ****** ****.

  • ***********/*********: **** *******/*** ***** ***** to ******** ******* ******* of ******* ******** **** out ***** * ***** color. **** ****** * rough **** ** ******** within *** **** ******* displaying *******. *** *******, a ****** *** ** seen ****** *****, *** no ******* ** ***** face ** ***** ********.

Multiple ***** *******

**** ******* *** ********* allow ******** ******* ***** to ** *******, ** some ***** **** ********* colors ** ************ ******** for ****. **** ****** for ******** *****/******* ** be ******* ** *** private ***** ** ******** buildings ** ** ******* without ******** ****** ** between.

Most ***** ***********

*** ******** ** ******/******** manufacturers ***** **** *********** masks ** ** *******. This ***** **** ******** irregular ****** *****, *** mask *** ***** ***** which ** *** **** to ** ******** ** does *** ***** *** area *****.

*******, **** ************* ***** irregular ****** ** ** masked, **** ** *** polygons ***** ** *** Hanwha ****** *****.

PTZ ****** *******

**** **** ******* ***** may ** **** ** PTZ ******* ** ******** to *****. ******* ** placing * **** ** a ****** **** ** the ***** ** **** as ** ***** *******, **** mask ***** ***** ** pan/tilt/zoom ***********, ******* *** mask ** *** ****** moves *** *****. **** is ***** *****, **** the ***** ****** **** remaining ** ***** ** the ****** *****.

Static **. ******* *****

**** ******* ***** *** static, ********* ** ***** over * ****** ******. However, **** ********** **** now ********** ***** ***** dynamically ****/******** ***** ***/** bodies ** ******** ** real ****, ************ ****:

******* ******* ******* ** typically ******** *****, ****** integrated ** *** *** (e.g.,******* ********) ** *** ** *********, such ******'* ******* *********. ****** **** ******* privacy ******* ** * rare *******.*********'* *-*** ******* ************* **** ********** (***** they **** ****** ****** Removal), *** ** *** not ***** ** *** other *******.

Camera **. ****** **** ****

******* ***** *** ****** be ********** ** *** camera, ** ** *** VMS ******, **** **** certain ******** *** *********:

  • ******: ****** *** ******* ******* are ******* ** ******** privacy ***** ** *****. This ***** *** ***** prior ** ************, ** the *** ******** *** records **** ****** *****, with ** *********** **** it *** ** ******* post-transmission. **** ****** ***** are ****** *******, *** dynamic.
  • ******:**** *** ********* *** apply ******* ***** *** stream ** ********, ***** to ******* ** *********. This ***** ******* ** the **** ******** ** some *****, ** ******** an ************* ********, ****** this ** *** * common *******. ****** **** masking ** ********* ******, though **** **** ********** dynamic ******* ** ****.
  • ******** *****: *******, **** ********* ********* integrate **** ***** ** provide ******* ******* *******, pixelating ****** ** *** cameras' ***** ** ****. These ********* *** **** uncommon. ******** ***** ******* is ********* *******, ****** camera ** ****** ***** masks.

Removable ****** **** **********

******** ** ****** *******, in ***** ***** ****** to ***** ****** *** mask, ****** ****/********* ******* is **** *******. ********* on *** ***/******** ************, removable ***** *** ******* a ****** ****** ** sent *** ****** **** the ******, ********** *********/******* needs. ****** *** ***** the **** **** **** from *** ****** ** the ******, *********** *** need *** ********** *******, but ********** *********** **********. Regardless ** ***** ****** is ****, ******* ** as ****** ** ****** setting * ***** ** blurred ****** ** *** camera *** ******** *****.

Privacy ******* ***********

** **** *******, *** use ** ***** *** be ******** ** ************** policy ** ***, *** as ****, *** ******* a ****** ******* ** remove. ******* ********* *** ******* masking *********** *****'* ******* **** Protection ************* *** **** ********.

Beware: **** ** ******** ****** *****

***** ****** **** ** mind **** ******* ***** block *** ***** ****** them, ** ********** ** mask * ***** ***** window *** ***** ******** passing ** ** ******* a ********, ** ******* a ****'* **** **** (below), ***** ** ******** passing *** ** ****.

Typical ************

***** *** **** ***** used ** ******* *****, to ***** ***** ******* windows ** ******* ********** and *******. ** **** cases, **** ***** *** windows **** ** ******, no ****** **** ***** of *** ******** **** are **. *******, **** municipalities **** **** ******* on *** ****** ***** and *****, ********* **** the ***** ***** ** visible ** ****** ** the ******, *** ********* has ** *********** ** privacy.

** ******** *****, **** may ** **** ** mask *** ***** ***** privacy ** ******** ** required. ** ************ **********, the ****** ** **** cell ** ***** ****** for **** *******. ** commercial **********, *******, ******* is **** ******** ****.

Masks *** ********* **********

****** *** ******, ******* ***** may ** **** ** ****** bandwidth. **** ******* ** the ***, *** ******* mask *********** ********** * "dead" ****, ********** ********* needed. *********, ******* *** be **** ** ****** an ***** ********* ** the **** ***** ******.

*******, *** **** ***.***/*.*** ***** ********* ************* ******* *** need *** ***** **********, making **** ****** **** rarer.

***** ****** ****** ***** ** **** subject*** ******** *******, ********* performance *********** ******* ******** camera *************.

[****: **** ******** *** originally ******** ** **** but ************* **-******* ** 2018 ** ******* ********** developments.]

Comments (8)

I have also seen privacy masks being able to be created on video exported from VMS, to ensure privacy of video evidence.  You can create zones and enter what time period the polygon is displayed for.

Great examples and descriptions.  Standard privacy masking is such as standard feature, but it is all to often forgotten about....

I don't see how or where does GDPR require masking. Cameras should be pointed in spaces which doesn't breach personal privacy laws. If you have a video with masked faces, whats the point (as a customer looking to install CCTV)? Whenever something happen, you cannot use it as a proof. 

It may not explicitly require it. A lot of recommendations from EU sources mention privacy by design, i.e., not unnecessarily covering wide fields of view, but many also mention scrambling or masking. We are not experts or well versed in the GDPR and can't comment definitively. 

That being said, the few companies mentioning GDPR and masking that I've seen include removable masks, so in case of incidents, you would be able to remove the mask with proper authorization. 

Nowdays we are living and breathing GDPR, because all of our customers are scared, because the financial penalties are crazy (10mil EUR/20mil EUR). But if you have your documentation and processes in check, maybe even have a consultant (or data protection officer) you can use cameras without masking or scrambling in public areas. Of course, you still have to consider the impact on personal data and threats of IT security...

 

Bang on Jozef. The thrust of GDPR is accountability and control of personal data. It really doesn't filter down to technical requirements. Standard masking and a responsibility set-up system will suffice until there is some actual court case law to challenge it or enforce greater control.

You need to be pragmatic and informed with the data protection. There were so few prosecutions in the UK using the DPA that the GDPR supersedes, balanced a massive over-hype and scaremongering by stupid "compliance" companies. The only cases addressed gross abuse of the principles and law  - never border line infringements. If you follow the ICO's guidelines and read up on GDPR - you won't be prosecuted and it's a simple as that. GDPR can never be "attached" to a camera or system hardware - as it's all down to how the user manages and controls the data.

Removable masking is interesting. We implemented a bespoke version of Viconet several years ago that had this, for a police custody suite Although it was a bit lumpy, wasn't a bad effort for 5 years ago. The only real issue was that Vicon Israel were developing it and they seemingly lived on a different planet from Vicon UK and US and a different universe from our ISM Genesys VMS!

With GDPR and removable masking it's all down to justification and case law that has yet to be established. I think if you have masking covering a perpetrator of a terrorist offence you won't have an issue. If however, you are removing masking from a clothes changing area and posting on Youtube, you will have an issue. The billion Euro question is where the two extreme examples meet, which will be decided in case law over time, not by rip off compliance companies selling "answers" that frequented the gutters the last time data protection hit the headlines. It costs nothing to download and read the Information Commissioners Code Of Practice. Although only applicable in the UK, I'd be curious what the US and EU has that is equivalent. 

Going back to GDPR, the UK's most authoritative person on this is Elizabeth Denham - the Information Commissioner herself and she posted this comment that helps put things into perspective.

This does of-course extend far beyond the usual CCTV and into body-worn cameras, ANPR, traffic cameras etc.

As an integrator who works in multiple hospital settings I use PM for patient areas where HIPPA laws dictate that we do not record any video. It is a useful feature especially when we want ajacent activity. I certainly like the pixelated or blurred feature, but have not seen that on the cameras I install. 

The PTZ camera masking looks interesting. May I know it is a camera based in-build feature or a software based solution? And who is offering that?

It is a camera based option built in.  Any reputable PTZ should be able to do this. Otherwise as soon as you move the PTZ, you loose the masking...

Also, some PTZ allow you to set a zoom threshold, so that if you zoom in a certain point, such as into a window of a house across the street, the privacy zone snaps on.  If you zoom out enough, if turns off.

Hanwha IP PTZ cameras have these features.

(Hanwha employee)

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