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[liberationtech] Opinion on a paper?

Nick M. Daly nick.m.daly at gmail.com
Sun Sep 9 20:14:34 PDT 2012


"Paul Bernal (LAW)" writes:

> I've just come across this paper: "The 'Re-Identification' of Governor
> William Weld's Medical Information: A Critical Re-Examination of
> Health Data Identification Risks and Privacy Protections, Then and
> Now"
>
> It can be downloaded here:
>
> http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2076397

It's weird.  While reading this thread, I could've sworn that the author
completely missed Paul Ohm's amazing "Broken Promises of Privacy" [0],
but flipping (very quickly) through the paper, he refers to it, while
seeming to have completely missed the point (or maybe I'm just a
fanboy?).  The thing is that each piece of data can (probabilistically)
lead you to the next, much as a detective follows clues in a murder
mystery.  In the case of a specific target, the job gets easier as more
data are acquired (as others have mentioned, perfect deanonymization
isn't usually necessary).  See the EFF's Panopticlick [1] for an idea of
the numbers.

I won't address more generalized population de-anonymization because I
don't understand the problem/numbers as well.

If you haven't read Paul Ohm's paper yet, you should.  It's long, but
that's mostly because it's incredibly well explained.

Nick

0: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1450006

1: http://panopticlick.eff.org/


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