26 January 2022
Unlocking the Value in Visual Data: Privacy’s the Key
Thanks to cheap hi-definition cameras, cloud storage, and versatile visual AI, there are now more devices capable of capturing digital video than there are people. Video use cases have proliferated as well; beyond simple monitoring into facial recognition, emotion or anomaly detection, smart city applications, and business analytics.
Privacy regulation lagged these technologies until 2018, when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) set broadly similar standards and served as model legislation in other countries. Those new rules mandate the redaction of PII, including faces, before video can be used in many contexts.
As a result, large public- and private-sector entities have huge amounts of video data that they cannot use or share. Depending on where they’re operating, protecting PII in video is either already a legal requirement or it inevitably will become one. And, in an era of heightened public sensitivity, many companies operating outside the EU have already set their bar for privacy at the GDPR level—both in anticipation of future regulation and in the immediate acknowledgment that their reputational liability is already very real.
Limiting such liabilities is the mission of Pimloc, a UK-based startup that already has a revolutionary product in-market, called Secure Redact.
Secure Redact uses visual AI to quickly redact faces, heads, vehicle license plates and other Personal Identifiable Information (PII) in digital video.
First-gen CCTV surveillance video was rarely even watched; data was stored on-site and written over every few days unless it had to be preserved as evidence. Now it may live forever in the cloud creating another liability of future data breach. And until Pimloc came along, a skilled human operator painstakingly pixelated or blurred the faces of people who appeared incidentally in video evidence in order to meet GDPR or CCPA rules. It often meant that valuable evidence was not used; sometimes it was not even worth capturing.
Pimloc’s Secure Redact anonymizes video affordably and almost instantly. It can be accessed directly as an online SaaS product or via APIs and Containers to allow integration into local video workflows and systems.
Visual AI and ML also power a rapidly expanding field of video analytics in which the value of data is not contingent on PII. Pimloc has already had talks with one of the world’s fastest-growing manufacturers; the company would like to use video analysis to improve warehouse efficiency, but it will only be possible if their workers’ identities are protected.
Pimloc’s CEO, Simon Randall, and CTO, James Leigh met at a previous company where they collaborated on a wearable, always-on camera dubbed the ‘Autographer’. That camera had some prescient privacy protection features but the main lesson Simon and James took from the experience was the need—and market opportunity—for data privacy solutions that could scale with the exponential increase in surveillance they saw happening all around them. To create that technology, they founded Pimloc in 2016.
Pimloc already makes video data easier to use within existing regulations. By automating the redaction of PII, it will accelerate new and creative uses of visual AI that would otherwise be held back by privacy concerns.
It’s a special pleasure for us to lead a seed round for Pimloc because it will not just unlock the value in its customers’ visual data, it will also protect the PII of countless people—whether they know that such a company exists or not.