Posted by: Clarinette | February 17, 2015

To be or not to be (anonymous)? Anonymity in the age of big and open data

One of the very crucial issues for online privacy is how much anonymity is effective. An insightful panel discussions at the CPDP 2015 Privacy conference in Brussels was ‘To be or not to be (anonymous)? Anonymyity in the age of big and open data‘. How safe anonymised data are is at the centre of the big data debate. So far, most research, if not all, have shown how easily date could be de-anonymised. Paul Ohm and the Carnegie Melon University have demonstrated the failure of anonymization for a long time. Here is how it was announced on the program :

organised by INRIA (FR)image

Chair Daniel Le Métayer, INRIA (FR)

Moderator Benjamin Nguyen, INSA Centre Val de Loire (FR)

Panel Josep Domingo-Ferrer, UNESCO Chair in Data Privacy (SP), Mark Elliot, University of Manchester (UK), Antoinette Rouvroy, University of Namur, CRIDS (BE), Vincent Toubiana, CNIL (FR)

Anonymisation is seen as an essential prerequisite for the development of big data and open data because it is the only way to allow the disclosure of large datasets while preserving individuals’ privacy. However, what do we mean exactly by anonymisation, and what could be considered as a truly anonymous dataset? Is it possible to ensure that “anonymised” data cannot be de-anonymised one day? If not, can we draw a line between anonymous and personal data? How should data utility be taken into account?  These questions are under considerable debate and the answers are of strategic importance. Addressing these issues interdisciplinarily is essential. This panel will gather computer scientists, statisticians and lawyers to contrast and discuss their views on anonymisation.  The panel will also provide the opportunity to present and discuss Opinion 05/2014 of the Article 29 Working Party on anonymisation techniques.

  • What is anonymous data?
  • How can data be anonymised in practice?
  • What are the limitations of anonymisation?
  • How can regulation go beyond the duality personal data/anonymous data? 

More about the panelists : Vincent Toubiana, from the French data Protection Authority, the CNIL (FR) Mark Elliot, from the Manchester University (UK) Professor Antoinette Rouvroy, University of Namur, CRIDS (BE) Professor Josep Domingo Ferrer, UNESCO Chair in Data Privacy (SP) More on that very important subject of anonymization and the research results on de-anonymization. With Few bits of data, researchers were able to identify ‘anonymous’ people. All research tend to prove it is not possible to remain anonymous online.


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