Researchers have found that internet services that claim concealing personal information of users to be “anonymous or encrypted” are not as safe as many believe.
The researchers have found that more than 99% of people (participants) can be identified, through a handful of data points presumed to be encrypted.
The study suggests that skeptics can be silenced quickly, by using an online tool developed by researchers to support their research published in the journal (Nature Communications)byusing 3 commonly used demographic characteristics: date of birth, zipcode and gender, this tool can successfully identify users about 83% of the time.
With 5 or more data points, the automated learning model gets the right result at an average rate of just over than 99%.Researchers at the Catholic University de Louvain in Belgium and in Imperial College London said that these results are worrisome pointing out that ” data that do not have clear information about identity but can be redefined” are still protected under the privacy laws, such as California Consumer Privacy Act.
These laws protect sensitive personal information from being shared without user’s consent. Common anonymization techniques do not provide sufficient protection against actors which is a major problem as more and more personal information, especially health data, are transferred to the cloud.