For critical applications such as emergency planning and epidemiology, public safety responders may need access to sensitive data, but sharing that data with external analysts can compromise individual privacy. This topic came to us from Help Net Security in their article, “NIST crowdsourcing challenge aims to de-identify public data sets to protect individual privacy.”

The practice of proactively releasing government data poses many opportunities to society. Despite its benefits, open data initiatives can also pose a threat to the privacy of individuals. Specific, detailed, and granular data enable businesses, policy-makers, researchers and the public to conduct rich analysis and to apply evidence-based decision-making. However, this detailed data can be used to identify individuals, posing a threat to their privacy.

Even if data is anonymized, malicious parties may be able to link the anonymized records with third-party data and re-identify individuals. When data has both geographical and time information, the risk of re-identification increases significantly.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.