February 16, 2016, meetup wrap-up
We had a wonderful meetup this past Tuesday. Csilla Farkas came and gave an awesome presentation on data analytics and privacy. One of the things to come out of the presentation was Latanya Sweeney's work:
Alice goes to the hospital in the United States. Her doctor and health insurance company know the details ― and often, so does her state government. Thirty-three of the states that know those details do not keep the information to themselves or limit their sharing to researchers . Instead, they give away or sell a version of this information, and often they’re legally required to do so. The states turn to you as a computer scientist, IT specialist, policy expert, consultant, or privacy officer and ask, are the data anonymous? Can anyone be identified? Chances are you have no idea whether real-world risks exist. Here is how I matched patient names to publicly available health data sold by Washington State, and how the state responded. Doing this kind of experiment helps improve data-sharing practices, reduce privacy risks, and encourage the development of better technological solutions.
There's not really much to report. I will have some pictures up in the gallery soon. It was a really fun night with a really good talk.