Privacy challenges

Larry Hardesty, MIT News, Feb 04, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This story has been making the rounds (I heard it on BBC world last night): an MIT research project is determined that you can positively identify a person with only four data points across a set of anonymized data. "Even if the data set characterized each purchase as having taken place sometime in the span of a week at one of 150 stores in the same general areas, four purchases (with 50 percent uncertainty about price) would still be enough to identify more than 70 percent of users." Today I'm listening to a speaker from new Jersey say all their students have to use a Google login to access services. Well, there are your four data points. You may as well just mail Google your students' ID and student records (I asked about it; he wasn't really concerned about it).

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