by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 28th 2009 2:49am
For years, we've been pointing out that there's really no such thing as an anonymized dataset. There's almost always ways to associate data back to people. We've seen it happen over and over again as companies claim they're releasing an anonymous dataset, only to discover later that it's not so difficult to re-nomynize it. In fact, there was even a recent paper on how to re-identify people based on an anonymous data set. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that yet another "anonymous dataset" has been shown not to be very anonymous. This time, it's about GPS data that was supposed to be scrubbed of identifying info, but some researchers have found that it's not hard to put that data back together, knowing that the two main places people go are home and their office. With that info, you could pretty easily uniquely identify people. Among the many reasons why this could be important? All those silly efforts by politicians to force drivers to install GPS devices in order to tax their driving habits. They always insist the data won't be used for tracking, but even if they're well intentioned, you can see how the data can be abused.
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