ANONYMISATION OF DATA
Data is the biggest asset today. By conventional wisdom & legality, the owner of the data is the person to whom it pertains to. Data as it stands today is put into use in ways, it would not have been imaginable till recent times. Personal data of different types are either legally mandated for privacy or as per the agreement / consent between the customer and the company, safeguarding the same. Anonymisation of data is a type of sanitisation of information with the intent of privacy protection.
Many countries have Data Protection Acts which mandates the manner of use of personal data by organisations; information which allows individuals to be identified. Organisations are thus forced to use anonymisation techniques, if they intend to find value in the datasets & databases, by enabling wider use of personal data. Medical data is a case in point. In its anonymised form has been used for analysis and research in the last few years in US & couple of other countries. If connected with pharmacy data, value adds can be higher. It is still to take off in India.
For most of the other fields it is in a nascent stage; at the level of research or tool development or deciding on the process of usage. If too many fields are done away with, the utility of the data is so diminished, that it would be barely have an value. At the end of the day the trade off has to be managed. Value has be extracted while maintaining fullest privacy. There are lots de-anonymisation tools, techniques & skills, which are posing huge challenges.
There are experts in the field who have the capability to connect the anonymised data with other public domain databases, private information & other sources, to successfully identify the person. The understanding of datasets, databases, the context, geography helps. With privacy & confidentiality taking the centre stage, quality of anonymisation & its authentication has be improved and maintained at levels sufficient enough to safeguard identity.
ANONYMISATION IS THE WAY FORWARD TO USE OF PERSONAL DATA FOR WIDER USE.