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Directions in Big Data Anonymisation

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OFBW30 - New Approaches to Anonymisation

The explosion of big data opens such huge analytical and inferential possibilities that they may allow modeling the world and predicting its evolution with great accuracy. The dark side of such data abundance is that it complicates the preservation of individual privacy: big data largely feed on the digital trace of our activities. Facing the tension between big data and privacy, we find two extreme positions that strive for hegemony: on the one side, the nihilists claim that it is delirious to try to maintain one's privacy in the big data world, and that the best we can hope for is that our data are not misused (if this means anything); on the other hand, the fundamentalists propose privacy protection methods so drastic that their application would destroy nearly all the analytical interest of big data. We will survey these extreme positions and we will describe a midway path, which we believe more balanced and desirable. This path is based on identifying the utility and privacy requirements of big data and trying to satisfy them through an evolution of the statistical disclosure control methods developed in the last 40 years. We will also briefly touch on transparent, local and collaborative anonymization as ways to reduce the power of the data controller in front of individual subjects.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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