Ensure Data Privacy and Compliance with Bulk Audio Redaction Software

With the rise in the volume of audio recordings, bulk audio redaction software has become essential to overcome data privacy and compliance challenges.

It’s been three years now, and this director and her team are still processing files, including audio recordings, to respond to an information request received in the summer of 2021. Can you believe it?

More than 2,200 person-hours have been consumed so far, and the request processing is still far from over. However, this is just one example of how ensuring data privacy and compliance can take a toll on your time, productivity, and mental health. Only if there was PII redaction software that could bulk-redact multiple audio recordings in a single go.

While we’re not promising you a magic wand, this activity would’ve taken much less time if multiple audio recordings were redacted in bulk using audio redaction software. Bulk audio redaction is not just a nice-to-have thing. It’s essential for navigating the challenges of ensuring data privacy and compliance in today’s privacy-aware world. More on its importance later in this blog post. Till then, stay tuned!

With more than 2,500 data privacy laws and regulations governing how sensitive data, including those found in audiotapes, call recordings, etc., is stored, accessed, and shared both inside and outside the four walls of the organization, it has become more important than ever for enterprises to focus on data privacy and meet regulatory compliance.

Even if you find yourself among 80% of companies that are positive about the prevalence of different privacy laws and rules across the globe, we know that navigating the world of compliance that all say the same thing about ensuring data privacy but somehow differently can be a tough ride. Especially given the rise of technologies that make information sharing easier than ever, it is becoming more imperative for organizations to safeguard data privacy.

Hence, this blog serves the purpose of helping you understand how bulk audio redaction using audio redaction software can help ensure data privacy and compliance. Moreover, we will be covering why enterprises across different industries need automated audio redaction to redact multiple – even millions of audio recordings – in bulk.

However, before getting started with the need for redaction tools with bulk audio redaction capability, let us first explore what bulk audio redaction software is.

What is Bulk Audio Redaction Software?

Bulk audio redaction software refers to a compliance-enablement solution for enterprises that allows them to redact sensitive spoken words, including personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), and other forms of confidential details from multiple audio recordings, such as phone conversations, teleconferencing, etc., at once.

With information sharing becoming more convenient than ever, the share of audio recordings has increased. This has resulted in enterprises realizing the importance of having automation audio redaction at their disposal.

With bulk audio redaction using audio redaction software, companies can simply upload multiple audio files, specify what to redact from them, and see the redaction in action.

Benefits of Bulk Audio Redaction Software

Bulk audio redaction software offers a range of benefits to enterprises dealing with large amounts of audio-only sensitive data. These benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

Diagram showing the benefits of bulk audio redaction software

  • Speed and efficiency
  • Cost reduction
  • Accuracy and consistency
  • Scalability

Speed and Efficiency

With bulk audio redaction software, organizations can save a lot in terms of their time and productivity. It is pertinent to note that while certain companies have designated privacy officers who are responsible for redaction-related tasks, not all businesses are equipped with the resources required to scale their operations to ensure data privacy and compliance.

This means that while personnel in these companies have their core responsibilities, they also have to take their time out to ensure the redaction of sensitive information, which can result in wasted productivity. Automated audio redaction ensures that no business is left at a disadvantage in terms of privacy compliance.

Cost Reduction

Redaction tools that offer bulk redaction of audio files can prove to be great in terms of cost savings. Wonder how? Thanks to bulk redaction capabilities, enterprises do not need to invest more in terms of headcount, thereby allowing them to save big in terms of human resources and employee costs. Also, organizations can help existing employees remain productive, thereby positively contributing to the bottom line. 

Accuracy and Consistency

One of the biggest forms of embarrassment could be the failure to redact information found in sensitive audio recordings. When dealing with a large amount of audio files, it would be natural to leave some sensitive information out there for everyone to see. However, thanks to bulk audio redaction software, this is no longer the case as the redaction remains highly accurate as well as consistent throughout each audio file, since all parameters are defined at once by you.

Scalability

Saying that you can redact multiple audio recordings in a single go is enough. The automated redaction software needs to be highly scalable. Advanced audio redaction software that can allow the redaction of millions of audio recordings at once should be your go-to choice since the influx of audio-related data is huge and can see a spike sometimes. Scalable audio redaction software helps you ensure that you remain ever-ready to ensure privacy and stay compliant.

Why Enterprises Need Bulk Audio Redaction?

Enterprises, regardless of the industry they’re operating in, heavily need bulk audio redaction to efficiently deal with a variety of audio data generated from voice recording devices, phone calls, and other sources. With audio data contributing significantly to the global datasphere, it is evident that there is a lot of personal, sensitive data residing in it.

A diagram showing different use cases of bulk audio redaction.

According to an International Data Corporation (IDC) whitepaper, data is shifting to an enterprise-centric model. This implies that enterprises now have to be more vigilant than ever when it comes to safeguarding data privacy and staying compliant with various rules and regulations.

These rules and regulations have increased in number, while the existing ones have become stricter and expanded their scope. The consequences of violating them have become even harsher. As if embarrassment because of redaction failures wasn’t enough, regulatory authorities are keeping a close eye on companies, ready to slap huge fines – ranging from thousands to millions and even billions of dollars.

However, the chain of consequences does not end here, as failing to comply with these laws, such as GDPR, HIPAA, etc., can result in employment termination and even imprisonment.

The good news is these strict regulations can be addressed by using audio redaction software to bulk-redact audio recordings. Industries such as those mentioned as follows can effectively use redaction tools to make bulk audio redaction smooth, accurate, consistent, and highly efficient:

  • Call centers
  • Financial services
  • Law enforcement
  • Prosecution
  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • Education

Call Centers

According to a 2022 McKinsey and Company publication, more than 60% of companies report that customer calls have skyrocketed. If numbers are to be believed, a call center receives 200 calls in a single day on average. Now, imagine the amount of personal data customers share with you while on call. 

Sensitive Data Found in Call Centers: A lot of personal data is shared in customer calls, both intentionally and unintentionally. Some of the examples of customer details shared over the phone include the following:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Date of birth (DOB)
  • Phone number
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Credit card number
  • CVV code

Hence, call centers need audio redaction software to automate bulk audio redaction workflows, given different scenarios where they have to deal with sensitive data obtained from customers over the call. These scenarios are briefly covered as follows:

Customer Identity Verification: Since identity crimes in call centers are on the rise, call center agents are also bound to verify the identity of customers to prevent identity theft and fraud from occurring. Even if asking for personally identifiable information is kept to the minimum, customer details, such as name, account number, and social security number (SSN), are still needed over the phone to perform the due diligence.

Over-the-Phone Payments: Even in today’s digital era, where digital wallets have taken over the financial landscape, card-not-present (CNP) transactions, such as over-the-phone payments, are still happening. In such transactions, customers tend to use agent-assisted payments to make purchases while on call. This involves customers sharing their sensitive financial information, including credit card numbers, CVV codes, card expiration dates, etc.

Call Quality Monitoring: All customer interactions made with the agent over the phone are recorded by call centers. These recordings are then used to monitor the quality of customer calls by call center professionals, such as quality assurance analysts, to enhance service delivery to customers. However, given the sheer number of sensitive details shared in these hundreds of thousands of calls received over the month, they need to be first redacted in bulk using audio redaction software before handing over the recording to quality assurance analysts.

Agent Training: Similar is the case of agent training, wherein call recordings containing sensitive customer information are used to train and improve the effectiveness of call center agents. These recordings are shared with the call center trainer, who, in turn, shares them among agents. This is why, before sharing it internally with employees, sensitive information from multiple recordings needs to be muted or bleeped using automated audio redaction to bulk-redact millions of audio recordings in a single go.

Financial Services

Despite the financial services industry’s efforts to reduce the call volume, banks as large as Capital One handle thousands of customer calls in a single day. This phenomenon is not only prevalent in the banking sector. TSYS, a payment solutions provider, once reported receiving more than 560,000 customer calls in a month. It is safe to say that a goldmine of sensitive information is being shared in calls made to banks and financial services providers.

Sensitive Data Found in Financial Services: Financial services companies increasingly deal with personally identifiable information (PII) and payment card industry (PCI) information obtained from their customers. The following are some of the examples of confidential information shared by customers:

  • Primary account number (PAN)
  • Cardholder name
  • Expiration date
  • Service code
  • Zip code
  • CVV code
  • Password
  • PIN
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Given the amount of risk involved in financial transactions, financial institutions find themselves surrounded by various compliances, including PCI-DSS, GLBA, FDCPA, and the Dodd-Frank Act. The following scenarios highlight the importance of having audio redaction software that can help ensure data privacy and compliance through bulk audio redaction:

Caller Authentication: According to a study conducted by PYMNTS, financial institutions, including banks, frequently ask for passwords, PINs, and email addresses to verify the identity of the customer. Moreover, phone numbers are one of the most sought-after personally identifiable information (PII) when opening new accounts over the phone call.

Since cardholder data and sensitive authentication data (SAD) are acquired over the phone, this places financial institutions under the scope of PCI-DSS, which mandates banks, payment solutions providers, and other financial services companies to secure customer data.

MOTO Payments: Mail order/telephone order (MOTO) payments refer to remote monetary transactions conducted with the involvement of the bank or any other financial services company. Considering the wide applicability of PCI-DSS, the regulation also applies to MOTO payments, which means that financial services companies need to use redaction tools to automate bulk audio redaction and – as PCI-DSS says – “reduce its attractiveness by devaluing account data.”

Compliance Requirements: Financial services companies are supposed to store customer call recordings for compliance purposes securely. For instance, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has rules for recording customer calls. Similarly, according to The Safeguards Rule of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), financial institutions are bound to protect the private information of both existing and previous customers. Last but not least, the Dodd-Frank Act has provisions for securely storing customer call recordings to maintain accountability and transparency.

Law Enforcement

It should not come as a surprise that the protectors of people also serve as protectors of sensitive information. When not out there saving the city and preventing crimes, law enforcement officials, including police officers, are busy protecting the privacy of individuals from within the data stored with them. A significant portion of this data comprises audio tapes and recorded calls.

Sensitive Data Found in Law Enforcement: Law enforcement officials frequently deal with a variety of sensitive information, mainly comprising personally identifiable information (PII). Some of the examples of such information include the following: 

  • Name
  • Identities of family members
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • Medical information, such as injuries and insurance carrier
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Driver’s license number

Given the sensitive nature of their job, law enforcement professionals have to carefully deal with ensuring information privacy, while meeting different regulatory requirements, such as those set forth by SB-1421/AB-748. The following scenarios depict the need for law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to use audio redaction software for redacting multiple audio recordings in one go:

Police Interrogations: Police investigations are incomplete without interrogations of case witnesses and suspects. Such interrogations are recorded using voice recording devices that capture the identity of witnesses and suspects. This needs to be protected to ensure compliance with the state and federal laws.

In fact, according to Section 11.02, Recording of Police Questioning of the Principles of the Law, Policing, the identity of witnesses, including those who later turned out to be suspects as the investigation unfolded, should be protected by means of redaction. Given the amount of huge caseload, it would only be wise to use PII redaction software for automating the bulk audio redaction of police interviews.

911 Caller Privacy: According to the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), approximately 240 million 911 calls are made every year. These calls contain loads of sensitive information that, if disclosed, could risk the safety of the caller.

Such data includes the name, location, and other sensitive details of the caller. Section 832.7 of the SB-1421/AB-748 specifically mandates law enforcement agencies to redact records, including audio recordings, containing sensitive information, before releasing them. Moreover, according to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), the identities of victims, child victims, child sexual assault victims, or witnesses generally need to be protected and are exempt from public disclosure.

Prosecution

Hailed as guardians of the truth, legal professionals also guard the privacy of individuals. As one should expect, legal attorneys are faced with a deluge of sensitive information that should be kept confidential. Similar to the case of law enforcement, the disclosure of such sensitive details can pose a risk to the physical safety of the individual(s) in question. 

Sensitive Data Found in Prosecution: Since oftentimes prosecution and law enforcement work in conjunction with one another, the nature of the sensitive information involved in the prosecution and legal landscape is more or less similar to law enforcement. This sensitive information needs to be carefully redacted using legal redaction software. Some of the examples of sensitive details include the following:

  • Witness identities
  • Job title
  • Place of work
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security Number (SSN)

With legal professionals finding themselves stuck in making information privileged, it becomes imperative for them to take advantage of audio redaction software that offers bulk audio redaction capabilities. The need for bulk audio redaction can be better described by understanding the following scenarios specific to attorneys and legal practitioners:

Witness Recordings: Data from the United States Courts official website reveals that approximately 1.3 million cases were heard in 2023. Since there are 108 courts in the US, the math tells us that each US court, on average, has a caseload of around 12,000 cases. That is quite huge!

Now, imagine the number of witness statements found in these cases that are crucial to making or breaking the case. These witness statements are increasingly audio-recorded to reduce case backlogs and accelerate the path toward justice. Not to mention, these witness statements contain information that can be used to identify witnesses, thereby causing them harm in case of disclosure.

Remote and Hybrid Depositions: In the post-pandemic world, remote and hybrid depositions have significantly replaced in-person depositions. As a matter of fact, almost 90% of all cases involve depositions, and each case can have 10 of them and, in some cases, even more. Since each deposition can last up to 7 hours, this calls for a huge commitment to safeguarding data privacy and ensuring compliance for legal professionals. These remote and hybrid depositions are audio-recorded as prescribed in Rule 30, Deposition by Oral Examination.

Government

With the increasing gap of public trust in the government, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for information have recorded a 30% year-on-year increase, amounting to 1.1 million information requests in 2023.

“We’re talking about timelines that are worse than routinely unmet but almost never met. We’re talking about massive backlogs.” These were the words of Senator Jon Ossoff talking about the state of FOIA compliance.

Addressing this huge backlog, comprising requests for audio recordings and other forms of media, requires an automated FOIA redaction software that can help process requests faster within the stipulated time of 20 business days.

Although there are no specific numbers on the share of audio-based information requested through FOIA, an analysis of the FOIA request logs of different departments reveals that audio information is frequently requested and, oftentimes, in bulk, sometimes even ranging from 1997 to 2021. Imagine the amount it would take to process and redact them if there were no automated audio redaction workflows for redacting in bulk.

Types of audio records that can be requested under FOIA take a variety of forms, such as:

  • Voicemail and telephone conversations
  • Teleconferencing recordings
  • Training session recordings
  • Town hall meeting recordings
  • Council and budget meeting recordings
  • Audio recordings related to research conducted by government agencies

However, it is important to note that these recordings might contain sensitive information that is exempt from FOIA. Read this blog on the 9 FOIA Exemptions and How to Handle Them to learn more. 

Healthcare

While there’s no denying that it is important to save lives, it is more or less equally important for healthcare professionals to save and preserve patients’ data. With the healthcare industry transitioning from paper-based records to electronic health records (EHRs) containing patient-related sensitive information, new challenges regarding patient privacy and compliance have emerged.

Sensitive Data Found in Healthcare: Healthcare professionals, including physicians, increasingly record information regarding patients to improve patient care. These audio recordings take several forms, such as medical visits and consultations, patient-physician communications in a medical setting, and patient-nurse communications in a homecare setting.

These recordings contain sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI) subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Some of the examples of sensitive information are as follows:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth (DOB)
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Driver’s license number
  • Medical record number
  • Account number
  • Medical conditions
  • Institutional affiliations
  • Occupation
  • Geographic region

Because of the wide variety of sensitive information shared by patients, it becomes essential for healthcare service providers to protect this information at all costs. There are several instances where healthcare professionals find themselves acquiring and dealing with sensitive patient data, some of which are briefly discussed as follows:

Patient Communications: According to a Physicians Foundation survey, it is estimated that a doctor sees around 20 patients a day. Each medical visit and consultation brings in a pile of sensitive PII and PHI information that is audio-recorded. These details need to be protected and secured to ensure HIPAA compliance.

These interactions involve the patient sharing their direct identifiers, such as name, date of birth, address, etc., and their clinical history, including illnesses and treatments received so far. However, these communications are not limited to clinical settings. Patient-nurse communications in home-care settings are also audio-recorded, which contain sensitive PII and PHI information.

Clinical Trials: Audio recordings of qualitative human subject interviews in clinical trials have taken the place of traditional patient-reported outcome questionnaires. These audio recordings offer a wealth of information to healthcare professionals regarding the treatment experiences of the patients involved in the trial.

Starting from around 100 research participants in Phase 1, the number of participants exponentially increases to thousands in Phase 4. It is fair to assume that an immense number of sensitive details with a huge influx are involved in these trials.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) of healthcare organizations oversees how patient-related information obtained from clinical trials is stored, accessed, and shared by healthcare professionals. Moreover, the Common Rule (45 CFR 46) says that data of human subjects should not be in any way identifiable. Having audio redaction software that helps with bulk audio redaction can be a lifesaver for healthcare professionals.

Training Purposes: As mentioned earlier, audio recordings of patient-physician and patient-nurse communications are meant to improve patient care. This is why these recordings are made available to healthcare professionals for teaching and training purposes. Making these recordings available to a large audience requires swift redaction of sensitive PII and PHI details that can be made possible through bulk audio redaction workflows using redaction tools.

Education

Education service providers often find themselves juggling between enabling the learning of their students and maintaining students’ privacy. Regulations, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), have strict guidelines for educational institutions dealing with and protecting private information found in student records. A significant portion of these student records is made up of audio recordings containing personally identifiable information (PII).

Sensitive Data Found in Education: With an average class size of 15-30 students, it is natural for education service providers to deal with a massive inflow of sensitive data related to their students. Some of the examples of sensitive student information, known as non-directory information in terms of FERPA, are as follows:

  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Student identification number
  • Date of birth (DOB)
  • Parent name and address
  • Gender
  • Country of citizenship
  • Religious affiliation

Certain audio recordings also take the form of student records, thus making them subject to FERPA and PPRA compliance. To ensure privacy compliance in audio recordings, education service providers need to bulk-redact recordings using automated audio redaction capabilities. The following scenarios reveal the importance of having audio redaction software for educational institutions:

Classroom Recordings: Education service providers are permitted to audio-record classroom lectures if students consent to them.  Similarly, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows students to audio-record lectures to accommodate other students with disabilities and provide an equitable learning experience. In both cases, since these recordings contain sensitive information, including private, identifiable information of students, they are subject to FERPA and PPRA.

Other Recordings: Learning does not always happen within the four walls of the classroom. Apart from class lectures, guest lecturers, workshops, seminars, presentations, etc., are also great sources of student learning. According to the University of New Mexico, a student is allowed to audio-record the guest lecturer’s presentation.

Not only this, but guest lecturers can also gain access to recorded audio files of their lectures with them. This again contains a wealth of sensitive and personally identifiable information (PII) about students that need to be redacted to ensure no private information gets disclosed. After all, the price of privacy negligence is heavy, as it can result in penalties, termination, and even jail time. 

Key Takeaways

No matter what the industry is, the objective of using bulk audio redaction software remains two-fold – ensuring that privacy always remains on the top and various regulatory compliances are met. From legal professionals to law enforcement officers, call center agents to 911 call operators and emergency dispatchers, and financial service providers to educationists, every one of them faces a massive inflow of audio recordings in a number of forms. Coupled with a lack of time and resources and the harsh consequences of violating compliances, bulk audio redaction is not just a nice-to-have feature but an essential one.

VIDIZMO’s Audio Redaction Software for Bulk Audio Redaction

VIDIZMO’s AI-powered redaction software is way more than just bulk audio redaction software. Among many redaction tools that mostly offer either video/audio redaction or document redaction, VIDIZMO Redactor offers a media-agnostic solution spanning across audio, video, images, and electronic as well as scanned documents. After all, it’s not only the audio that needs to be redacted.

VIDIZMO Redactor empowers organizations spanning different industries to overcome data privacy and compliance-related challenges efficiently. With privacy laws becoming stricter and new ones emerging on the scene, it can be tougher to keep up with so many of them, especially in the face of time, resources, and cost constraints.

This is where VIDIZMO Redactor plays a key role in helping organizations stay compliant with ever-increasing and ever-changing data privacy regulations without forcing them to go out of their way. With bulk audio redaction coupled with automated spoken PII redaction in VIDIZMO Redactor, businesses can protect sensitive data swiftly and accurately. 

In fact, one of the largest counties in California uses VIDIZMO Redactor to bulk-redact more than a million audio recordings. 

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People Also Ask

What is audio redaction?

Audio redaction is the process of protecting sensitive information, such as personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), non-directory information found in students’ educational records, etc. Audio redaction can be performed by either muting or bleeping the sensitive data using audio redaction software.

What information is usually redacted in audio recordings?

The information that is usually redacted in audio recordings includes personal identifiers, such as names, social security numbers (SSNs), location, date of birth (DOB), place of birth, credit card details, bank account numbers, health-related information, non-directory information from student records, privileged information, and more.

What is call redaction?

Call redaction refers to the process of protecting sensitive information shared on a call. Calls exchanged in call centers usually involve a wide range of sensitive information, including personally identifiable information (PII), payment card information (PCI), and protected health information (PHI). This information needs to be redacted efficiently to ensure the utmost data privacy and compliance.

Who uses bulk audio redaction?

Bulk audio redaction is used in a range of different industries, including call centers, financial services firms, law enforcement agencies, prosecution and legal firms, government agencies and departments, healthcare organizations, and education service providers. Since sensitive audio files are found in large quantities, even in millions, in most industries, companies tend to use bulk audio redaction software to streamline their redaction workflows smoothly, swiftly, and efficiently.

What is an example of a FOIA audio request?

An example of a FOIA audio request would be telephone conversations. Other examples include but are not limited to teleconferencing recordings, training session recordings, town hall meeting recordings, and council and budget meeting recordings. These audio recordings need to be efficiently redacted in bulk using FOIA redaction software.

What is bulk audio redaction in law?

Bulk audio redaction in law refers to the protection of personally identifiable information (PII) of case witnesses, privileged communications, and depositions. The audio recordings resulting from legal proceedings and other related activities undergo careful redaction to protect the privacy of individuals using legal redaction software.

Posted by Rafey Iqbal Rahman

Rafey is a Product Marketing Analyst at VIDIZMO and holds expertise in enterprise video content management, digital evidence management, and redaction technologies. He actively researches tech industries to keep up with the trends. For any queries, feel free to reach out to websales@vidizmo.com

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