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What is Video Redaction

Two men with redacted faces walking up a city street discussing the question “What is Video Redaction”
January 11, 2022
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Due to the public nature of information sharing on the internet and through social media platforms, it is critical that sensitive and private data remain private. 

Images and videos of the general population are continually being taken and stored in various locations, ranging from traffic lights to police body cameras to surveillance film. 

If this material is disseminated without the appropriate authorization, there are several possible legal implications. More significantly, this release of information threatens the safety and privacy of those concerned. 

As a result, various types of media must be censored prior to being made public.

what is redaction

What is meant by video redaction?

Redaction is the purposeful omission or concealment of information in a multimedia recording. The term "redaction" refers to the process of removing sensitive data from material such as documents, audio files, and videos. 

Redaction may be used to redact footage captured by CCTV systems, body-worn cameras, 911 calls, digital video recorder systems, in-car video systems, jail or prison phone services, crime scene videos, crime scene images, and evidence obtained during investigations.

A standard method of video redaction is to blur the faces of persons filmed by security cameras inside the store and perhaps the license plates of cars in the parking lot of the store. This is important, for example, when the system is being tested or maintained by someone who does not have the required authority to observe faces or license plates. 

It can also be used to make unclassified elements of a classified recording available to the public or safeguard individuals' privacy for example redacting company Zoom calls or publishing footage from a medical procedure or surgery for educational purposes yet redacting to protect the patient’s privacy.

Why is privacy compliance necessary?

Compliance with privacy laws entails far more than simply adhering to statutory requirements. While adhering to legislation is critical for avoiding legal action or penalties, there are other reasons to establish a thorough privacy policy that effectively protects both consumers and staff. 

Adhering to sound privacy practices enables businesses to avoid regulatory investigations into their data security.   Many organizations and corporations as we know them now would struggle to exist without the assistance of privacy compliance. 

Any degree of data loss for a company in any setting might result in a slew of problems, including losing consumer trust, staff trust, and astronomical legal and regulatory fines. 

Compliance with international privacy regulations forms another crucial part of a company's compliance practices. Any individual or corporate organization that sells anything, whether a product or a service, in the European Union, regardless of where the company is registered or headquartered, must comply with the GDPR's privacy laws (General Data Protection Regulation). It is a little known fact that video is included in GDPR and redaction is a must to comply with Articles 15 and 17 to avoid stiff GDPR fines.

What is the purpose of video redaction?

Let’s look at law enforcement agencies and legal/eDiscovery organizations who might need to disseminate multimedia for a variety of reasons. 

Among these are the following: 

  • Increased transparency within the community;
  • Requests for open records under the Freedom of Information Act ;
  • Public disclosure for the purpose of generating a safety alert or assisting in the identification of a suspect;
  • For the purpose of research;
  • Application in criminal or civil proceedings;
  • A court order or a judgment of a judge.

An organization may be obliged to redact information included in a recording before dissemination. Redaction is frequently required to safeguard individuals' privacy or to comply with regulations and laws governing the protection of personally identifiable information. 

These include, but aren't limited to:

  • Health records that are within the purview of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA);
  • Investigation techniques and methodologies
  • Criminal justice regulations, which are administered by the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS);
  • The identity of a victim, suspect, prosecutor, or witness including minors;
  • Sensitive metadata, such as GPS locations, serial numbers, license plates or unique identifiers for individuals.

Different Methods of Video Redaction

When determining the most effective redaction method, the desired outcome should be ascertained, considering the type of information required (if relevant) and any applicable legal or organizational restrictions. 

Filters for Video Redaction

Numerous filters are available for redacting video parts, depending on the vendor providing the software. The type, impact, and intensity of the filter applied to the recording will ultimately be defined by the video recording, its conditions, the redaction reason, and organizational protocols, sometimes defined by the user in their settings as in the case of Sighthound Redactor.

Below are examples of filters that are frequently employed in video redaction (e.g., color-filled rectangle, oval, or circle). An irreversible filter is recommended to be utilized after it has been generated and exported from the video redaction program.

Blur: Blurring is a technique for reducing visual clarity by using a mathematical algorithm to alter pixel values. When applied to specific video sections, this procedure renders them unrecognizable. When utilizing this redaction, the degree of blurring must adequately cover all filtered material.

Mosaic and Pixelation: These are two techniques used in video or picture editing that blur an image by presenting sections or all of it at a significantly reduced resolution. When employing these filters, ensure that the cell size or pixel matrix size renders all redacted material unrecognizable.

Solid Form: This filter may be specified by any shape and color; however, the shape's opacity must prevent the altered material from being visible.

Additionally, several filters can be used to guarantee that all identifiable elements are entirely redacted.

How long does it take to redact a video?

A typical rule is that no more than two minutes of video redaction and enhancement should be required to get one minute of footage, depending on the deployment environment and/or computing power of the hardware being utilized to run the software. It should be noted that when purchasing software, the cheapest option is not necessarily the best. 

What is spent upfront should pay for itself in terms of the time it takes humans to redact video manually. Yet, outsourcing these activities might be much more expensive. 

The really cost-effective method to address the issue of redacting and improving video and audio is to invest in responsive, intuitive software that requires minimal training or time to operate, that fits in your workflow as an effective instrument in your organizations most critical tools for compliance, security and privacy.


To redact information from recordings, technology is necessary. Recordings may be imported, updated, modified, and exported using video redaction software. Choosing appropriate video redaction software is critical for doing redaction work within the practitioner's organizational processes and capabilities. 

At the very least, the application should be capable of decoding several video and audio codecs, allowing for recording trimming and providing choices for video and audio filters. Additionally, we propose that the application autonomously track items and adjust their form, size, and placement. 

Before usage, a strong focus should be made on software testing and validation to verify that the results are irreversible once generated.

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