A framework for objective evaluation of privacy filters in video surveillance
Extensive adoption of video surveillance, affecting many aspects of our daily lives, alarms the public about the increasing invasion into personal privacy. To address these concerns, many tools have been proposed for protection of personal privacy in image and video. However, little is understood regarding the effectiveness of such tools and especially their impact on the underlying surveillance tasks, leading to a tradeoff between the preservation of privacy offered by these tools and the intelligibility of activities under video surveillance. In this paper, we investigate this privacy-intelligibility tradeoff objectively by proposing an objective framework for evaluation of privacy filters. We apply the proposed framework on a use case where privacy of people is protected by obscuring faces, assuming an automated video surveillance system. We used several popular privacy protection filters, such as blurring, pixelization, and masking and applied them with varying strengths to people's faces from different public datasets of video surveillance footage. Accuracy of face detection algorithm was used as a measure of intelligibility (a face should be detected to perform a surveillance task), and accuracy of face recognition algorithm as a measure of privacy (a specific person should not be identified). Under these conditions, after application of an ideal privacy protection tool, an obfuscated face would be visible as a face but would not be correctly identified by the recognition algorithm. The experiments demonstrate that, in general, an increase in strength of privacy filters under consideration leads to an increase in privacy (i.e., reduction in recognition accuracy) and to a decrease in intelligibility (i.e., reduction in detection accuracy). Masking also shows to be the most favorable filter across all tested datasets.