Wearable health technologies, such as fitness trackers, can compromise HIPAA data

With the enthusiasm of personal health diagnostic tools that connect automatically (such as through smart phones) to health data vaults there is an tremendous opportunity to undermine HIPAA privacy protections by secretly encoding the individual’s contact information within the measurement data using steganography techniques.   The market for cracking HIPAA protections either for private gain…


Big data can re-identify de-identified data

The enthusiasm for the benefits of big data comes from widely promoted reports of past successes. The promise of big data techniques is that it can provide similar successes in other contexts. Big data involves volume, velocity, and variety. The volume and velocity depend on automated queries and report building. The variety introduces the opportunity for new benefits. The combination of automation and opportunity from variety is what makes re-identification possible or even very likely.

Privacy and the Primary Key

In earlier posts, I described labor consequences for different categories of data and how this cost is generally underestimated because there is a sense that all data is alike once it enters a data store.   In those posts I described different levels of trustworthiness of data where the less trusted data requires more frequent…


Big Data and Privacy

This article discusses the privacy concerns due to the inevitable collection of data from more and more intrusive devices.  In this post I want to describe counter trends that may increasingly protect privacy.  In particular the bigness of data can cripple its usefulness for individual targeting. I agree with the trend to extend data capabilities…