Re-identification and the Privacy Commissioner

14 Dec 2016

One of the hot topics in the space race of data – amongst a plethora of them – is the issue of re-identification of anonymised data. Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim hosted a workshop on de-identification ‘Data sharing and interoperability’ at the recent Govinnovate conference in Canberra in November.

In the shadow of the Privacy Amendment (Re-identification Offence) Bill 2016 and starting with a simple premise, the Commissioner stated ‘a successful data-driven economy needs a strong foundation in privacy’. The panel discussion that followed was informative and rigorous, with discussions around privacy and the potential for de-identified data to be made re-identifiable by new technologies.

Starring on the panel was a virtual who’s who of Australian and international data luminaries, including;

Dr Khaled El Emam, Founder and CEO, Privacy Analytics; Professor University of Ottawa,
Dr Stephen Hardy, Group Leader, Data Platform Engineering, Data61, CSIRO,
Paul McCarney, CEO and Co-Founder, Data Republic,
Gemma Van Halderen, GM, Strategy and Partnerships Division, Australian Bureau of Statistics,
Anna Johnston, Director, Salinger Privacy,
Dr. Vanessa Teague, The University of Melbourne,
Ian Oppermann, CEO and Chief Data Scientist at NSW Data Analytics Centre.

In the lead up to the panel, the Commissioner put that de-identification done correctly was both ‘simple’ and ‘complex’. Something that was demonstrated by the questions that followed;

  • Because what does “done correctly” entail?
  • De-identified means de-identified in whose hands?
  • And in what use?

With these questions and more lighting the way for the panel, the workshop engaged the sell-out audience in the drive towards a central thought: how de-identification of big data can pave the way for innovation.

The chief outcome of the workshop will be a guideline on de-identification from the Privacy Commissioner in early 2017.

Need more info?