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Opinion: Data Anonymization Isn't Black and White

PRIVACY—EU & U.S.

September 6, 2011

In a dataprotectionlaw&policy featured article, Omer Tene, of the Israeli College of Management School of Law, discusses the complexity of defining "personal data" as the legal frameworks for data protection and privacy are reviewed in both the EU and U.S. Researchers have found, Tene writes, that data thought to be anonymous can often be de-anonymized or re-identified, a finding that has "significant implications for policymakers." If all data is considered identifiable and, therefore, covered by data protection rules, business models based on anonymization and encryption will suffer, Tene says. Therefore, the nature of data should be considered a continuum--rather than either identifiable or not--and treated accordingly, he suggests.
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