Anonymizing Data Still a Valid Privacy and Security Technique
There is a common practice within the scientific community of de-identifying information gathered from research. The reason is simply that often identity information is not needed for the research. This practice also exists in the commercial sector, but it has been demonstrated that even seemingly anonymous information can still be gathered together to identify an individual (such as was discussed in The Internet: Not As Private As You May Think). Two Canadian privacy experts have released a paper on how even though re-identification is possible, it is not easy and requires such a concerted effort, that to anonymize data is still useful in protecting privacy. The reason for the report was to counter the belief some have, that there is no purpose to anonymizing data or that no information is anonymous, as someone can still piece it all together. As the privacy experts state, “The claim that the de-identification of personal data has no value and does not protect privacy due to the ease of re-identification is a myth.” However, they also go on to state that this is not an unchanging situation, as more information is put out there and more sophisticated re-identification methods are created. Still, de-identification along with other safeguards provides an effective means to protect your privacy.