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Paul Ohm – Law, Policy and the Limits of Anonymization

Tuesday, April 28, 2009
4:30 pm


Robertson Hall, Bowl 001

Reception immediately following in the Berstein Gallery

Two recent, newsworthy events have upended our understanding of the privacy-protecting power of anonymization. America Online and Netflix each released millions of anonymized records containing the secrets of hundreds of thousands of users. In both cases, to the surprise of many, researchers were able to “deanonymize” or “reidentify” some of the people in the data with ease.

Through recent events like these, Computer Scientists have taken giant strides in developing theories and techniques of anonymization and reidentification. What do these advances in Computer Science mean for law and policy? Nearly every data privacy law separates information into two categories: sensitive and non-sensitive, a distinction challenged by advances in reidentification. This study concludes that these advances will do no less than reshape every privacy law and revolutionize every privacy policy debate.

For more information: Paul Ohm’s home page.