The Best Ways to Anonymize License Plates and Faces

11. September 2023

Concerns about privacy and data protection are becoming more prominent and the fines issued for not being compliant with the GDPR, PIPL or CCPA are increasing. When it comes to protecting sensitive information such as license plates and faces in images or videos, anonymization techniques play an important role. By obscuring identifiable features or generating synthetic overlays, PIIs are protected, but what are the options when it comes to preserving the quality of the data anonymized sufficiently in order to be able to use it for analytics? In this blog post, we will explore some of the best ways to anonymize license plates and faces, ensuring a balance between privacy, usability and progress.

License Plate Anonymization Techniques:

License plate anonymization is essential to prevent the identification of vehicles and their owners. Here are a few effective techniques:

1. Blurring or Pixelation: One of the simplest methods is blurring or pixelating license plates. This technique involves applying a blur or pixel filter to the area containing the license plate, making it unreadable. However, blurring is often time consuming when dealing with large data sets.

2. Masking or Occlusion: Another approach is to overlay a solid color or an artificial mask on top of the license plate region. This technique conceals the plate while maintaining the overall appearance of the image

3. Replacement with Generic Characters: An alternative method involves substituting the actual characters on the license plate with generic characters or symbols. This approach ensures that no identifiable information is visible in the image.

4. Deep Natural Anonymization (DNAT) is an advanced technique that utilizes deep learning algorithms to automatically anonymize license plates in images or videos. It involves training a neural network to detect and modify license plate information while preserving the natural appearance of the scene. By leveraging the power of deep learning, this method offers an efficient and accurate approach to anonymize license plates, ensuring privacy in a seamless and realistic manner. DNAT is widely accepted as the best alternative for protecting identities because it retains semantic segmentation.This makes it the sole anonymization technique suitable for driving analytics and machine learning.

Face Anonymization Techniques:

Preserving anonymity in facial images is crucial to protect individuals’ identities. Here are some effective techniques to achieve face anonymization:

1. Facial Blurring: Similar to license plate anonymization, blurring or pixelating faces can be an effective method. By applying a blur or pixel filter to facial regions, the individual’s identity is obscured, ensuring privacy.

2. Masking or Occlusion: Similar to license plate masking, overlaying a solid color or an artificial mask on top of the face can effectively anonymize it. This method ensures that facial features are hidden while preserving the overall structure of the image.

3. Facial Feature Reduction: In some cases, reducing the level of detail in facial features while maintaining the overall facial structure can be an effective approach. This can be achieved through techniques such as downsampling or simplifying the facial landmarks.#

4. Face Swapping: A more advanced approach involves replacing the original face with a generic or artificial face, maintaining the overall appearance while removing any identifiable features. This technique is commonly used in the entertainment industry to protect the privacy of individuals.

Even though when it comes to protecting identities these options suffice, they do have a negative impact on the quality of ML algorithms and are not scalable. Deep natural anonymization for both faces and license plates is paving the way for a future where privacy and machine learning can co-exist.

To simplify the process of anonymizing license plates and faces, DNAT automates the process. It automatically detects and anonymizes sensitive information in images and videos. This significantly reduces the time and effort required to manually apply anonymization techniques.


Protecting privacy in a digital age is of utmost importance, and anonymizing license plates and faces is a key aspect of preserving personal information. By employing techniques such as blurring, masking, and face swapping, individuals can participate in digital content while maintaining their anonymity. It is crucial to strike a balance between privacy and usability, ensuring that anonymization techniques do not compromise the integrity or quality of the data when aiming for the best way to anonymize license plates and faces. As technology advances, now it’s easier than ever to implement effective anonymization methods such as DNAT and safeguard personal information and mitigate liability.

Andreea Mandeal
Head of Marketing