Databite No. 35: Daniel Barth-Jones + Felix Wu

How Anonymous Is Anonymity? Open Data Releases and Re-identification

April 30, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Data & Society
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Databites are Data & Society's weekly lunch conversations focused on unresolved questions and timely topics of interest to our community. To request an invitation, please email events at data society dot net.

Daniel Barth-Jones and Felix Wu on How Anonymous Is Anonymity? Open Data Releases and Re-identification:

Is it possible to openly share important raw data sets while preserving the privacy of individuals whose personal information is captured in the data in anonymized form? Numerous recent reports have suggested that it is often possible to use just a few bits of additional information to “re-identify” individuals in purportedly anonymous data sets, even when names and other basic identifiers have been removed. In this conversation, two scholars with distinct perspectives on the “re-identification” threat, Felix Wu (Cardozo School of Law) and Daniel Barth-Jones (Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health), will address the question of how to balance the risks of such privacy breaches with the potential insights into civic and public health problems that analyses of large collections of personally identifiable data may provide.