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Most Canadians can be uniquely identified from their date of birth and postal code
Date:8/8/2011

ly one year of data. When the full date of birth and a multi-year residential trail are considered, then almost 100% of the population is unique. Reducing the granularity of the postal code to 1 character together with the full date of birth does reduce the proportion uniqueness considerably.

"The findings are important because they offer yet another onion skin to peel back in the overarching dialogue about individual privacy rights. We need to continuously evaluate these risks to privacy, and put in place measures to protect anonymity, whether technological or policy-based. Failure to do so will result in a public unwilling for their health data to be used for secondary purposes, such as health research," said Dr. El Emam. "Take for example, if only a three character postal code is combined with the full date of birth, close to 80% of the population is unique or easily identifiable. I suspect this will surprise most people."


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Contact: Adrienne Vienneau
avienneau@cheo.on.ca
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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