Data De-Identification and Anonymization: Why and How It’s Done

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Anonymization of data involves taking steps to remove personal identifiers from a set of data. Once data is anonymized, it should be impossible — or at least very difficult — to figure out who the stored data is associated with. The term de-identification is often used synonymously with anonymization in this context.

Data is typically anonymized to protect the privacy of the subject. Anonymization may be applied to many data sets, including those used in medical studies and market research. Privacy laws — although they vary by jurisdiction — will often stipulate that any personal data tied to an individual cannot be used without their express consent. Once data is anonymized, those with access to it have free rein to use the information for various means without gaining express permission from the person (or people) involved.

Why Some Data Needs to Be Anonymized

In the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), there’s a plethora of data being collected about pretty much everyone, more so than ever before. What’s more, much of this data is digitized and stored online. Although much of it is not made public, select employees are trusted with access to their respective company’s data, and you also have the …

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