Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Anonymized" Data: Is It Even Possible?

I found Rosen's article for this week most interesting, especially Paul Ohm's comments about the "Database of Ruin." The article "'Anonymized' Data Really Isn't-and Here's Why Not" by Nate Anderson further discusses Ohm's research, focusing on the science of re-identification that has formed the "database of ruin." In the privacy debate, the main defense of advertisers is that all the personal information being collected is anonymous and decontextualized. However, this article cites examples of organizations (AOL and Netflix) that supposedly stripped their data of details that connected the data to whoever it was about. Computer scientists were able to backtrack and identify the person who created that data-"re-identification." It's a frightening reminder about how much personal information is available through these data collection, and how often we freely give this information away on a daily basis.

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