Data Security and the Annotation Process

The Importance of Data Security for Data Annotation

Data security and data privacy should be part of your assessment when outsourcing data annotation projects. Today, over 90 percent of business leaders have invested in AI and machine learning. However, this technological advancement comes at a price: over 62 percent of companies struggle to comply with data regulations such as GDPR and CCPA.

As we become more reliant on technology, there is a heightened concern for data privacy and security, and rightfully so – with significant data breaches in the past few years. 

Data security is the practice of protecting electronic information from unauthorized access. This can include measures to protect data from being corrupted, stolen, or used without permission.

When it comes to data annotation, there are key reasons why data security is vital:

  1. To protect the privacy of individuals whose data is being used
  2. To prevent fraud or malicious use of the data
  3. To keep the data accurate and up-to-date

This article will discuss the importance of data privacy and security in the annotation process and how you can take steps to protect your data and ensure that it remains safe and secure throughout the process.

Data Security vs. Data Privacy 

Data security and data privacy are often used interchangeably, but they are two distinct concepts. Data security is the practice of protecting electronic information from unauthorized access, while data privacy is the right of individuals to control how their personal information is collected and used.

Data privacy and data security have become intrinsically connected with the rise of The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). 

As businesses adopt AI and ML technologies, data security has become increasingly important. There are also data privacy compliance issues that must be addressed. Training data is often sensitive, as it can contain personal information such as names, addresses, birthdates, and more. If this training data falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to identity theft, fraud, or other malicious uses.

When considering outsourcing data annotation projects, be sure to assess the data security protocols of the vendor. How is your data protected from ingestion to delivery? What measures are in place to prevent fraud or misuse?

Crowdsourcing is a method often used to obtain training data cost-effectively and quickly. However, there are some serious risks associated with this approach:

  • Quality: There is little control over who is doing the work, leading to quality control issues, as there is no guarantee that the annotators are experienced or qualified.
  • Security: It can be a significant security risk. This is because you are essentially giving access to sensitive data to a large group of people who may not have the necessary security measures in place. Additionally, if you are annotating sensitive data, there is no way to ensure that the workers will keep it confidential.
  • Cost: Although crowdsourcing may seem like a low-cost solution, it can actually cost more in the long run if you have to deal with leaked data, bad quality data, or biased results.

When choosing a data annotation provider, ensure that they have strict security measures and high-quality standards to protect your data, both during and after the annotation process. 

Security Considerations for Data Annotation and Labeling

Accurately classifying data and documents is only part of the data annotation process. The process of preparing labeled data sets for machine learning has the potential to expose personal information, such as faces or medical images, to annotators. This requires greater trust in partners working with data. 

Sigma specializes in data annotation for large training sets and complex ML projects. We breed layers of security into the annotation process to prevent data security and data privacy issues.

The four factors of security Sigma addresses to ensure the highest level of compliance, accreditation, and security include: 

  1. Physical security
    • Sigma operates secure facilities with 24/7 manned security and metal detectors.
    • The building is inaccessible outside office hours.
    • Employees are identified based on their badges and biometrics.
    • No outside materials are allowed in the secure area (including personal belongings and electronics).
    • Access to the secure data area is monitored and project-specific data is available only to the teams working on that project. 
    • Project teams work in separate areas to ensure data confidentiality. 
    • Computers have polarized monitor filters to limit data visibility to only the annotator working on the project. 
    • Signage is used as reminders of the most critical security measures to keep in mind. 
  2. Internal security 
    • A mandatory five-step program takes place within the secure zone, providing an in-depth review of annotation guidelines, tools, and the importance of data quality, security, and Sigma’s privacy protocols.  
    • Upon hire, all employees must sign and follow several policies, including a code of ethics, acceptable use policies, and NDAs. 
  3. Cybersecurity
    • Internet access is restricted to only sites needed for each annotation project. 
    • Proprietary chat tools are used, and penetration tests and external audits are periodically run.  
  4. Security compliance
    • Industry-standard accreditations (i.e., GDPR, CCPA, ISO 27001, etc)

Sigma is dedicated to the security and protection of your data.  We understand that data security is of the utmost importance to our clients, and we take all necessary measures to ensure that your data is safe and secure.

Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing Your Data Annotation Projects

When you’re ready to outsource your data annotation project, it’s essential to ask the right questions to be confident you’re making the best decision for your company. Here are a few key questions to keep in mind: 

  • How sensitive is my data?

This will help you understand what level of security you need from your service provider. If your data is particularly sensitive, you’ll need to make sure the vendor can provide a high level of security, both physically and digitally. Highly confidential projects (such as those containing personally Identifiable Information (PII), Protected Health Information (PHI), financial data, or government records have different needs.

  • How will my data be transferred and accessed?

You’ll need to know the process for transferring your data to the service provider and how they will access it while working on your project. Make sure you understand what security measures will be in place to protect your data during transfer and while it is actively being worked on.

  • Where will my data be stored?

You’ll want to confirm that your vendor can meet your data residency requirements. If you have customers in the European Union (EU), you’ll need to ensure your vendor can comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

  • Where will data be annotated?

Confidentiality and security needs vary by project, but does your partner have a secure data facility? Find out about enhanced network security and protocols limiting internet access.

  • Who will have access to my data?

Data should only be accessible to vetted staff working on your project. If you choose to crowdsource, you’ll open your project up to more risk. Make sure your vendor can tell you who will have access to your data and that they have a process in place to vet annotators.

  • Do workers sign NDAs? Undergo background screening, and attend security training? 

Your vendor should be able to provide a comprehensive list of measures they take to protect your data. This should include physical, technical, and organizational security measures.

  • What regulations and standards will be complied with?

Your vendor should be able to tell you what regulations and standards they comply with such as ISO27001, CCPA, GDPR, SOC 2, Type II. This is important for ensuring the security of your data. 

 Ensure Your Data is Secure

By taking steps to protect your data, you can help ensure that it remains safe and secure. When you outsource your data annotation projects, make sure you partner with a vendor who takes data security seriously and is committed to protecting your information. Data security is our top priority at Sigma. We have implemented various physical, technical, and organizational measures to protect your data.Are you looking for data annotation services delivered with the highest levels of security and privacy?  Not only does Sigma adhere to GDPR, CCPA, and other data privacy regulations, but we provide robust data access controls, NDAs, and security and privacy technology. For more information, please contact us.

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Sigma offers tailor-made solutions for data teams annotating large volumes of training data.