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Tag Archives for " anonymity "

Inherently identifiable: Is it possible to anonymize health and genetic data?

Nearly 25 million people have taken an at-home DNA testing kit and shared that data with one of four ancestry and health databases.

With this proliferation of genetic testing and biometric data collection, there should be an increased scrutiny of the practices used to deidentify this data. Biometric data, namely genetic information and health records, is innately identifiable.

But can biometric data ever truly be anonymized, what are the methods of deidentification and best practices, and the current state of biometric data under the EU General Data Protection Regulation?

Full article: Inherently identifiable: Is it possible to anonymize health and genetic data?

Spanish Supervisory Authority and EDPS release guidance on hashing for data pseudonymization and anonymization purposes

On November 4, 2019, the Spanish Supervisory Authority (“AEPD”), in collaboration with the European Data Protection Supervisor, published guidance on the use of hashing techniques for pseudonymization and anonymization purposes. In particular, the guidance analyses what factors increase the probability of re-identifying hashed messages.

The guidance provides examples of how controllers can make the re-identification of hashed messages more difficult. These examples include encrypting the message (prior to hashing), encrypting the hash value, or adding “salt” or “noise” (i.e., a random number) to the original message.

Source: Spanish Supervisory Authority and EDPS release guidance on hashing for data pseudonymization and anonymization purposes

Anonymisation does not work for big data

Recently, well-publicised research by data scientists at Imperial College in London and Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium as well as a ruling by Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen of the Tel Aviv District Court have highlighted the shortcomings of outdated data protection techniques like “Anonymisation” in today’s big data world.

Anonymisation reflects an outdated approach to data protection developed when the processing of data was limited to isolated (siloed) applications prior to the popularity of “big data” processing that involves widespread sharing and combining of data.

Source: Anonymisation does not work for big data due to lack of protection for direct & indirect identifiers and easy re-identification vs pseudonymisation

‘Anonymised’ data can never be totally anonymous

An anonymised dataset is supposed to have had all personally identifiable information removed from it, while retaining a core of useful information for researchers to operate on without fear of invading privacy.

But in practice, data can be deanonymised in a number of ways. Now researchers have built a model to estimate how easy it would be to deanonymise any arbitrary dataset. A dataset with 15 demographic attributes, for instance, “would render 99.98% of people in Massachusetts unique”. And for smaller populations, it gets easier: if town-level location data is included, for instance, “it would not take much to reidentify people living in Harwich Port, Massachusetts, a city of fewer than 2,000 inhabitants”.

Source: ‘Anonymised’ data can never be totally anonymous, says study | Technology | The Guardian

Russia is working on a Tor de-anonymization project

Hackers have stolen a massive trove of sensitive data and defaced the website of SyTech, a major contractor working for Russian intelligence agency FSB.

The documents included descriptions of dozens of internal projects the company was working on, including ones on de-anonymization of users of the Tor browser and researching the vulnerability of torrents.

A Tor network routes internet traffic through random relays across the world, allowing users to conceal their location and internet usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis.

Source: BBC: Russia is working on a Tor de-anonymization project

Deidentification versus anonymization

Anonymization is hard. Just like cryptography, most people are not qualified to build their own.

Unlike cryptography, the research is far earlier-stage, and the pre-built code is virtually unavailable. That hasn’t stopped people from claiming certain datasets (like this ) are anonymized and (sadly) having them re-identified.

Full article: Deidentification versus anonymization

De-Identification Should Be Relevant to a Privacy Law, But Not an Automatic Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

The most important definition in any privacy law is the scope of information that is covered by that law. A line must be drawn somewhere between personal and non-personal data, the argument goes , or else laws will capture all information even if it presents no risks to an individual’s privacy.

Full article: De-Identification Should Be Relevant to a Privacy Law, But Not an Automatic Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

Does anonymization or de-identification require consent under the GDPR?

Data de-identification has many benefits in the context of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

One of the recurring questions is whether consent is required to anonymize or de-identify data. In this article, we make the case that no consent is required for anonymization or other forms of de-identification.

Full article: Does anonymization or de-identification require consent under the GDPR?

Austrian DPA takes “result-oriented perspective” in data erasure decision

The Austrian data protection authority (‘DSB’) published, on 30 January 2019, its decision, dated 5 December 2018, on the right to data erasure, further to an individual’s complaint.

In particular, the DSB highlighted that the complainant had alleged that an unnamed insurance company had infringed his right to data erasure by only deleting data stored for marketing purposes and anonymising the remainder.

Full article: Austria: DSB takes “result-oriented perspective” in data erasure decision

Does anonymization or de-identification require consent under the GDPR?

Data de-identification has many benefits in the context of the EU General Data Protection Regulation . One of the recurring questions is whether consent is required to anonymize or de-identify data. In this article, we make the case that no consent is required for anonymization or other forms of de-identification.

Full article: Does anonymization or de-identification require consent under the GDPR?

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