Complying with the GDPR by ‘De-Identifying’ Recorded Video

Uri Guterman

Uri Guterman

Uri Guterman explains how system integrators can help their end user clients comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by ‘de-identifying’ recorded video. 

The European Union’s GDPR has spurred on companies and organisations in all market sectors to address how they record, store and protect customer-related data. This is perhaps not surprising as a serious violation of the GDPR could be the subject of a fine of up to 4% of a company’s annual revenue or EUR 20 million, whichever is the higher. In addition, non-compliance with GDPR violation could result in a class action or a civil law suit against individuals.

Hanwha Techwin recently asked its country managers across Europe to report on the impact of the GDPR in respect of how video surveillance systems are managed and, in particular, 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 complying with the regulation: right of access, storage time limitation, de-identification, data security/password protocols, firmware encryption and transmission protocols.

Despite cultural differences in attitudes across Europe towards the GDPR, the issue of de-identification stood out head and shoulders above others in terms of perceived importance. This is because the GDPR 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 which has been recorded. However, the identity of other individuals who feature in the recorded video, needs to be protected.

Complying with the right of access might cause the owners of surveillance systems some inconvenience, but it’s not a difficult thing to do. Manufacturers offer video recorders and Video Management Software providing a wide range of search facilities to assist operators to quickly locate specific recorded video. These include keyword, calendar and time-slice search and face recognition options.

Necessity – the mother of invention

Until recently, protecting the data and de-identification of people in a video clip other than the person requesting access has appeared to be a much bigger challenge. However, as is quite often the case, necessity has become the mother of invention in the form of recently developed video masking software which provides a highly effective method of redacting faces from video in order to comply with the terms of the GDPR.

With a number of software development companies offering video masking solutions, it would be wise to check that your preferred option will not allow exported redacted video to be misused or tampered with in any way. It should therefore offer password protection, the ability to limit the number of views and access times and have an automatic destruction option. Some types of video masking software can also be configured to apply a user-defined watermark to the exported video file and will enable audio tracks to be removed or edited to further protect a person’s privacy.

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

Looking to the future, there’s no doubt that advanced forms of face detection and face recognition software which use emerging Deep Learning technology will provide a range of powerful tools to ensure compliance with the GDPR, while efficiently resolving any privacy issues and potential conflict with it 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 for security and risk management professionals.

Uri Guterman is Head of Product and Marketing for Hanwha Techwin Europe

*Do you have some questions about how the GDPR applies to video surveillance systems? If so, e-mail Uri Guterman at

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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