New privacy-enhancing video surveillance technology developed by the University of Toronto may bring some peace in the tug-of-war between public safety and privacy concerns in mass transit systems – but also raises a fresh set of concerns.

The technology was endorsed by Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian, who recently gave the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) the green light to proceed with its plans to implement 11,000 video cameras by 2011 after investigating a privacy complaint lodged by UK-based NGO Privacy International. If implemented with strong protocols, this privacy-enhancing technology (PET) allows surveillance to be conducted without the usual concerns, says Cavoukian in her report.

Privacy by design
Developed by Karl Martin and Kostas Plataniotis, researchers at the faculty of engineering, their secure visual object coding application uses cryptography techniques to encrypt “objects of interest” within video frames –

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