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Patent Issued for Application Independent System, Method, and Architecture for Privacy Protection, Enhancement, Control, and Accountability in...

June 25, 2014

Patent Issued for Application Independent System, Method, and Architecture for Privacy Protection, Enhancement, Control, and Accountability in Imaging Service Systems

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Bolle, Rudolf M. (Bedford Hills, NY); Brown, Lisa M. (Pleasantville, NY); Connell, Jonathan H. (Cortlandt Manor, NY); Hampapur, Arun (White Plains, NY); Pankanti, Sharatchandra (Mount Kisco, NY); Senior, Andrew W. (New York, NY); Tian, Ying-Li (Yorktown Heights, NY), filed on June 18, 2002, was published online on June 10, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8752197, is International Business Machines Corporation (Armonk, NY).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "As fraud and violent crime in our society is escalating, video monitoring/surveillance is being increasingly used to either deter the criminals or collect acceptable evidence against the perpetrators. These video-based systems include outdoor surveillance of the violence prone public spaces as well as the indoor surveillance of the automatic teller machines (ATMs) and stores/malls. Some of the indoor monitoring may involve relatively low resolution imagery while other video footage may be highly detailed and intrusive. For instance, the Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) video technology enables acquiring visual information beyond common physical barriers (e.g., walls) and millimeter radar enables visualization of the naked human body of a fully clothed person.

"Like collection of any other personal data (e.g., name, telephone numbers, address, credit card information), acquisition of video footage is also raising many concerns among the public about their privacy. The public would like to know who all are collecting their video footage and where this video information is being collected. What level of detailed imagery does the acquired data consists? Who will have access to the video or the processed results? To what purpose the acquired video information will/can be used? Will they know when the video footage is abused (e.g., used for the purpose beyond its intended/publicized purpose)? Can people have control over the video which contains their personal information (e.g., can they demand destruction of such data?).

"Increased automation can be used for gleaning individual information over extended periods of time and/or providing highly individualized content service to the contracted parties. This disclosure provides a means of reaching agreeable conditions for exchanging (or not-exchanging) sensitive individual information as it relates to the content provided by video/images of people infested environments.

"Problems with the Prior Art

"Most of the video privacy literature consists of obliterating the raw video which may potentially contain personal information. For instance, Hudson's privacy ref protection scheme is based on the premise that lowering the information content will automatically obliterate the personal information. Low resolution imaging (footprints) has been used by IBM footprints

"For obscuring individual identity. People are imaged in overhead low resolution passive infrared band where each pixel captures 2 sq ft. In both the approaches, not only identity is obscured but also the other details which may not be necessarily related to individual privacy.

"Protection of privacy using different methods is studied by Zhao and Stasko: See Zhao, Qiang Alex and Stasko, John T., 'Evaluating Image Filtering Based Techniques in Media Space Applications', Proceedings of the 1998 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW '98), Seattle, Wash., November 1998, pp. 11-18.

"Zhao and Stasko detect the moving objects in a video either by frame differencing or by background subtraction. In frame differencing, the (n-1) video frame is pixelwise subtracted from the frame. If the pixel difference at location (e.g., row, column in the frame) is significantly large, it is inferred that there is a moving object at that location in that frame. In background subtraction, a pixelwise model of the background (e.g., static) objects in the scene is initially acquired and subsequently updated. If a pixel at location (e.g., row, column in the frame) is significantly different from its background model, it is inferred that there is a moving object at that location in that frame. Zhao and Stasko propose that the personal information is located within the pixels which cannot be explained by the background model and/or where the frame difference is large. If these pixels are masked/blanked out, they conjecture that the personal information in the video is obliterated. This method makes no distinction between moving objects, animals and humans. Further, there is no provision for a person to watch the original video which consists of exclusively their own personal data (e.g., was I wearing glasses that day?). Further, there is no provision for a person selectively watching their personal component of the data in a video which may show many people.

"U.S. Pat. No. 5,615,391 issued to Klees, Mar. 25, 1997 of Eastman Kodak Company (also, EP 0 740 276 A2) discloses a system for an automated image media process station which displays images only while the customer present is detected thereby ensuring privacy. This disclosure detects presence of the customer using a camera installed in the self-development film processing kiosk and displays the photographic images being developed if the customer's presence is detected within field of view. This patent specifically relates to the privacy related to the single person detection and how it is applied to display of the images. It is not obvious how this disclosure can be extended to a larger set of scenarios where not only person identity is important but also the person's actions and location of the imaging may be need to be selectively displayed.

"Privacam is a method of sharing the sensitive information as disclosed in the public domain literature (Dutch newspaper, NRC):

"Big Brother gebreideld, Apr. 28, 2001"

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The present invention is a system and method for obscuring descriptive image information about one or more images. The system comprises a selector for selecting the descriptive image information from one or more of the images, a transformer that transforms the descriptive information into a transformed state, and an authorizer that provides authorization criteria with the image. In a preferred embodiment, the transformed state is the respective image encoded with the descriptive information. The descriptive information can be obscured so that the descriptive information in the transformed state can be decoded only if one or more authorization inputs satisfy the authorization criteria."

For more information, see this patent: Bolle, Rudolf M.; Brown, Lisa M.; Connell, Jonathan H.; Hampapur, Arun; Pankanti, Sharatchandra; Senior, Andrew W.; Tian, Ying-Li. Application Independent System, Method, and Architecture for Privacy Protection, Enhancement, Control, and Accountability in Imaging Service Systems. U.S. Patent Number 8752197, filed June 18, 2002, and published online on June 10, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Legal Issues, International Business Machines Corporation.

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Source: Journal of Engineering

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