Dispelling the Myths Surrounding De-identification: Anonymization Remains a Strong Tool for Protecting Privacy

Summary  Recently, the value of de-identification of personal information as a tool to protect privacy has come into question. Repeated claims have been made regarding the ease of re-identification. We consider this to be most unfortunate because it leaves the mistaken impression that there is no point in attempting to de-identify personal information, especially in cases where de-identified information would be sufficient for subsequent use, as in the case of health research.

The goal of this paper is to dispel this myth — the fear of re-identification is greatly overblown. As long as proper de-identification techniques, combined with re-identification risk measurement procedures, are used, de-identification remains a crucial tool in the protection of privacy.
Author(s)  Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D.
Information & Privacy Commissioner,
Ontario, Canada

Khaled El Emam, Ph.D.
Canada Research Chair in Electronic Health Information, CHEO Research Institute and University of Ottawa
Published Date  Jun 16, 2011

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