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De-identification Protocols: Essential for Protecting Privacy

Source: GPS by Design

De-identification Protocols: Essential for Protecting Privacy

Information is the new currency of our economy. Since the dawn of the digital era, information has become increasingly available, and at a scale previously unimaginable. According to IBM, each day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of information are being created and, over 90 percent of the information currently in existence has been created in the past two years.1 With technological advances, this information is also becoming easier to collect, retain, use, disclose and leverage for a wide range of secondary uses.

Information is becoming far more valuable as businesses, big and small, seek to learn more about their customers and those of their competitors, and as advertisers seek to gain a competitive advantage by finding new and innovative ways to use information to target advertisements that are most relevant to their consumers. Information is also increasingly being sought for secondary uses that are seen to be in the public interest. For example, the health sector is seeking to use information to support evidence-based decision-making, to improve the quality of care provided, and to identify and achieve cost efficiencies.


Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D.
Information and Privacy Commissioner
Ontario, Canada

Khaled El Emam, Ph.D.
Canada Research Chair in Electronic Health Information
University of Ottawa

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1 Kevin C. Desouza & Kendra L. Smith, “Big Data for Social Innovation” (2014) Stanford Social Innovation Review 39.

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