University research challenges GDPR’s data anonymisation standards

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July 26, 2019, 4:55 PM UTC

Researchers have developed a machine learning tool to evaluate the likelihood of re-identifying the right person using anonymous data.

Research from the University of Louvain and Imperial College London has found that it is possible to identify individuals even after their data has been made anonymous. The study contends that the current approach used by governments and companies for anonymising user data does not safeguard privacy.

Despite excluding characteristics like name and email address, individuals can be re-identified. The study further reveals that by using 15 demographic attributes including age, gender and marital status, 99.98% of Americans would be correctly re-identified in an anonymised dataset.

The findings of the study oppose the standards for data anonymisation set by GDPR and other laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. The researchers have also launched an online tool to allow people to see what information could be used to re-identify them.

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