Are you aware that you could be signing over the keys to your identity when filling out medical forms that promise to “anonymize” your information?
When most Americans sign agreements allowing their medical records or personal information to be used for research, they are told that their data will be “anonymized” — in other words, it cannot be traced back to them. Residents who fill out Census Bureau forms, providing data that determines how government funds are distributed and may become public, are told the same thing.
But, according to researchpublished in the journalNatureTuesday, your data may not be as anonymous as you thought. Scientists at the Imperial College London and Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium have come up with a computer algorithm that can identify 99.98 percent of Americans from “almost any available data set with as few as 15 attributes,” including gender, ZIP code or marital status,The New York Times reported.
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