What Is Data Re-Identification?

Written by Caitlin Davidson

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Data Re-Identification Defined

Data re-identification  is the practice of reversing the de-identification of data and matching and connecting it with publicly available information, in order to discover the individual to which the data belong to.

Data re-identification involves scrubbing the once anonymized data. When a scrubbed data set is re-identified, either direct or indirect identifiers become known and the individual can be identified. Direct identifiers reveal the real identity of the person involved, while the indirect identifiers will often provide more information about the person’s preferences and habits.

Scrubbed data can be re-identified through three methods:

  • insufficient de-identification
  • pseudonym reversal
  • combing datasets

These techniques are not mutually exclusive as all three can be used in tandem to re-identify data.

In Data Defined, we help make the complex world of data more accessible by explaining some of the most complex aspects of the field.

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