Preserving Privacy while deploying CV solutions


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What is Privacy?
How can privacy be preserved in Computer Vision?
  • Not Collecting Private Information
  • Edge AI
  • Person Anonymization
  • Data Encryption
Final Thoughts

Privacy has become a rising concern among modern nations. As we progress towards a more connected world, the data being collected from us is becoming harder to track and secure. With a rise in cameras all around us, we never know how the data is being used and is the data privacy maintained.

To contain this, various referendums and guidebooks have been passed by multiple regulatory organizations, but the fear of a data breach always remains.

Throughout this blog, we will look at what data privacy is, why is it important to maintain it, and how it can be preserved while deploying computer vision use cases.

What is Privacy?

As defined by GDPR, Data privacy means empowering your users to make their own decisions about who can process their data and for what purpose.

Data drives AI-based intelligent systems. Without data, such solutions are no better than a doormat. But, using and collecting such data comes at the cost of privacy and security concerns that cannot be ignored. 

Privacy concerns from the data owners such as the users are real and there must be no compromising on it. There have been multiple cases where the data was not used correctly or misused by a trusted party leading to much larger complications in the form of alienating the user by making them feel less safe and vulnerable online and also offline. 

Such data breaches by consented/non-consented parties can also be used to manipulate user decisions and their freedom of choice making it very unethical in some cases. There are many other misuses such as the rejection of a service based on data collected by other sources without the user’s knowledge, that can create tremendous problems within an individual’s life without their proper approval.

While deploying Computer vision solutions, the data being collected is more visual containing the facial features and various other sensitive information such as the location or movement. Hence, it is essential that while deploying CV applications too, privacy is maintained to the utmost.

How can privacy be preserved in Computer Vision?


  • Not collecting private information – First and foremost, the simplest of the solutions for maintaining data privacy is to outright not collect the data in the first place or collect the least amount of data that will be required. This ensures that the user’s privacy stays intact and there is also no requirement for consent.

  • Edge AI – But, there might be situations while deploying CV where data collection and processing becomes important. It can be a school, a business workplace, or a similar private space where the individuals have directly/indirectly consented to the collection of their data such as recording them with surveillance cameras, etc. 
    In such places, Edge AI solutions, which bring AI as close as possible to the source of data collection without sending anything out of the campus, can be deployed. Edge AI solutions provide privacy and security for the data and ensure that the data remains in the control of a single consented entity.

  • Person Anonymization – While deploying CV applications, we can also use CV models to anonymize non-consented individuals in a scene, by either blurring their faces or blurring their entire bodies. This makes the person just a value in the data and not an actual person preserving their right to privacy and also allows us to deploy a use case in a more public space.

  • Data Encryption – Encrypting the collected data can also help preserve and respect the privacy of an individual. Whenever it is very important to collect information about an individual, such as in the retail segment while keeping track of regular customers and catering to their demands appropriately, the data collected can be anonymized by applying encryption on it so that a person is just a random number.

Final Thoughts

Data privacy is becoming important day by day with the rise in the number of cameras all around us. With increasing concerns regarding possible misuse of personal data, it has become necessary that the privacy of an individual is respected and maintained. 

Stricter regulations by various organizations such as the GDPR and by EU have made companies aware of data privacy, its importance, and the method of preserving so. With AI and cameras all around us, it has become a little difficult to maintain our privacy but the methods that we saw will again help us stay in control of our data.

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