Privacy Enhancing Technologies and Statistical Disclosure Control Methods

Privacy Enhancing Technologies and Statistical Disclosure Control Methods

Jouni Markkula
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch430
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Discussion of data privacy has a history that dates back to the 1960s. A seminal work in this area is Alan Westin’s book Privacy and Freedom (Westin, 1967). In 1962, the Special Committee on Science and Law of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York proposed a more formal study of the impact of modern technology upon privacy. Professor Westin was selected to organize the committee’s studies and to direct its research, which finally led to the publication of the book. Westin (1967) noted that problems of privacy were posed by familiar and increasingly pervasive items: the miniature battery-powered microphone, the extension telephone, the portable (and concealable) tape recorder, and the small high-resolution camera. This statement also sounds familiar and topical today if the older examples of technology are replaced with smartphones and sensor networks.

Since then, privacy principles have been expressed in Fair Information Principles (FIPs) and in privacy-related regulation. The FIPs were first specified by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1973), which defined privacy in the following way:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs): It refers to a coherent system of information and communication technology (ICT) measures that protect privacy by eliminating or reducing personal data or by preventing unnecessary and/or undesired processing of personal data, all without losing the functionality of the information system (European Data Protection Supervisor, n.d.).

Statistical Disclosure Control (SDC): Statistical Disclosure Control is the discipline concerned with the modifications of statistical data, containing confidential information about individual entities such as persons, households, business, etc. in order to prevent third parties working with these data to recognize individual in the data and thereby disclose information about these individuals” (Willenborg & deWaal 2001).

Personal Data: Any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (“data subject”); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity (EC Directive 95/46/EC.).

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