pinboard July 26, 2019

  • Estimating the success of re-identifications in incomplete datasets using generative models | Nature Communications

    While rich medical, behavioral, and socio-demographic data are key to modern data-driven research, their collection and use raise legitimate privacy concerns. Anonymizing datasets through de-identification and sampling before sharing them has been the main tool used to address those concerns. We here propose a generative copula-based method that can accurately estimate the likelihood of a specific person to be correctly re-identified, even in a heavily incomplete dataset. On 210 populations, our method obtains AUC scores for predicting individual uniqueness ranging from 0.84 to 0.97, with low false-discovery rate. Using our model, we find that 99.98% of Americans would be correctly re-identified in any dataset using 15 demographic attributes. Our results suggest that even heavily sampled anonymized datasets are unlikely to satisfy the modern standards for anonymization set forth by GDPR and seriously challenge the technical and legal adequacy of the de-identification release-and-forget model.

    All simulations were implemented in Julia and Python. The source code to reproduce the experiments is available at https://cpg.doc.ic.ac.uk/individual-risk, along with documentation, tests, and examples.

  • Your Data Were ‘Anonymized’? These Scientists Can Still Identify You – The New York Times

    Scientists have found a way to identify virtually any American from any data set with just 15 attributes, like gender, ZIP code or marital status.

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    Climate change: 12 years to save the planet? Make that 18 months – BBC News

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