Hello and thank you for joining us for the final chapter of our AI Redaction series. So far, we’ve explored AI-Powered video redaction, how automated redaction software and services work, the best practices for redaction, redacting documents with AI, and the basics of redaction. For our sixth and final chapter, we take a look at audio redaction.
- Why audio redaction is necessary
- How information is redacted from audio files
- The best practices for audio redaction
- What information is redacted from audio files
- Challenges presented by audio redaction
Audio redaction is the process of obscuring audio information in audio files. The goal is to safeguard personal information against misuse. Many different agencies, including law enforcement agencies, legal organizations, and healthcare providers have a responsibility to keep private certain personally identifiable information (PII) about the individuals they serve.
Any time there is an audio recording of an individual’s PII, voice redaction is necessary to protect any confidential information or to comply with HIPPA law. Because so many different entities have a responsibility to safeguard the sensitive information of the individuals they interact with, audio redaction is of the utmost importance to data protection and maintaining regulatory compliance.
Why is audio redaction necessary?
Any service or entity that records conversations where individuals disclose sensitive information about themselves has a responsibility to keep safe such information. In the case of the healthcare sphere, providers, pharmacies, and other entities could face legal consequences for breaching HIPPA privacy regulations whether or not that breach is intentional. Lawyers and other legal organizations are required to maintain their own privacy protection standards.
Financial information, like credit card information used in any day-to-day credit card transaction, has to meet stringent safety and privacy requirements under the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). If ever a user has to call their credit card company and verbally verify or disclose any of their credit card information, that information must be protected. Individuals generally trust such professionals to keep their information safe from any nefarious use—a breach in this trust could cause a credit card company or bank to see an exodus of account holders.
How is audio redaction performed?
Manually editing audio files is a time-consuming process that generally takes two to five minutes per minute of audio edited. This means a ten-minute 911 call could take almost an hour to process. In many areas, like California, there exists a legal obligation to release records and evidence used in court proceedings within 45 days, but whenever that evidence contains audio information the voice privacy and audio privacy of certain individuals need to be preserved.
If editing a 10-minute audio file could take up to an hour, then it stands to reason an hour of audio evidence might take up to six hours to edit. There’s no way around it: audio file redaction takes a long time. That means that in every instance there is a legal need to release audio evidence that contains PII, there is a lot of audio redaction work to be done.
Automated Redaction (AI)
One of the most practical redaction solutions is audio redaction software. This software is one of many tools that can aid in secure audio redaction, but the top tier of redaction technology is automated redaction software, like Veritone Redact. AI-powered redaction solutions like Veritone Redact can help technicians locate important words or phrases spoken by persons in audio evidence like 911 calls, in-car video systems, body cam footage, or interview room recordings with a keyword search. Because all audio redaction is transcript-based, users gain added visual support to aid in the accuracy of their speech redaction efforts.
Best practices for audio redaction
For teams feeling bogged down by audio redaction duties, professional audio redaction software can help. When using professional audio redaction software, a user simply needs to input the start and end time of a clip of audio that needs to be redacted, and they can choose to either mute or bleep out that section of audio.
It is also of the utmost importance that agencies follow whichever industry or legal regulations apply to them: HIPPA for healthcare, PCI DSS for any organization that processes credit card transactions, or any of the myriad of legal regulations surrounding the release of evidence used in court proceedings. Failure to adhere to these privacy standards and legal regulations could result in legal or financial consequences, as well as a loss of trust in that particular agency.
Due to the importance of regulatory compliance, frequently reviewing and updating redaction practices to better comply with regulations is another best practice. To further your understanding of the best practices for redaction, review our “Best Practices for Redaction” chapter in our blog series.
What needs to be redacted in audio files?
Several different types of information need to be redacted in audio files in order to maintain the privacy and safety of individuals. The information needing to be redacted generally falls into one of three categories:
- PII: Personally Identifiable Information (PII) includes a person’s name, address, phone number, email address, social security or driver’s license number, medical or financial information, names and ages of children, and more.
- Confidential Information: Confidential information includes financial transactions or bank statements, bank account or credit card numbers, credit ratings, payment histories, and more.
- Sensitive Information: Sensitive Information includes any information about a person’s sexual orientation, religious beliefs or convictions, political disposition, and more.
When redaction is concerned, it is important to note that redacting an audio file is not the same as editing that file. Yes, the end goal of redacting an audio file is to protect information and at the surface that can look like mere editing, but it is important to remember that redacting isn’t changing any audio like someone could when editing an audio file. Redacting is the process of omitting sensitive information, and implies that no other changes have been made to the file.
Challenges in audio redaction
Despite its importance, audio redaction can be a challenging process. It can be difficult for a human technician or piece of software to identify every piece of sensitive information—no solution is 100% error-proof. Ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of pre-redacted audio is also important since such important personal information is at stake.
In addition, it can be challenging to maintain the audio quality of the original file which, when dealing with auditory evidence, can prove to be problematic, especially if the same file has to be redacted multiple times. Accuracy can help preserve audio quality in that it can prevent a file from having to be redacted over and over.
Accurate audio redaction is instrumental in preserving the privacy and safety of individuals. By redacting audio files, healthcare organizations, law enforcement agencies, and other legal and financial entities can help preserve the privacy of the individuals they serve, protecting their personal, health, and financial information.
The best practices for audio redaction involve using professional audio redaction software. AI-powered redaction software and services, like Veritone Redact and Redaction Managed Service, can reduce the time redaction takes by 90%. Professional audio redaction software can help by allowing you to search transcripts of files for keywords, aiding in the accuracy of redaction.
In addition, keeping current on and maintaining proper regulatory compliance needs to be a top priority when redacting audio files. The information that law enforcement, legal agencies, financial bodies, and healthcare companies need to protect includes a person’s PII, confidential information, and sensitive information, as we’ve detailed above and covered in more detail in Chapters Two and Five of our blog.
For a refresher on the basics of redaction, feel free to review Chapter One of our blog for a primer on redaction in the digital age.
Thank you for joining us for our blog series on AI-powered redaction. If you or your team are interested in AI-powered automated redaction software or redaction services, one of our Veritone team members can help you learn more about our offerings.