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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

De-identification is the process used to prevent someone's personal identity from being revealed. For example, data produced during human subject research might be de-identified to preserve the privacy of research participants. Biological data may be de-identified in order to comply with HIPAA regulations that define and stipulate patient privacy laws. [1]

While a person can usually be readily identified from a picture taken directly of them, the task of identifying them on the basis of limited data is harder, yet sometimes possible.

When applied to metadata or general data about identification, the process is also known as data anonymization. Common strategies include deleting or masking personal identifiers, such as personal name, and suppressing or generalizing quasi-identifiers, such as date of birth. The reverse process of using de-identified data to identify individuals is known as data re-identification. Successful re-identifications[2][3][4][5] cast doubt on de-identification's effectiveness. A systematic review of fourteen distinct re-identification attacks found "a high re-identification rate […] dominated by small-scale studies on data that was not de-identified according to existing standards".[6]

De-identification is adopted as one of the main approaches toward data privacy protection.[7] It is commonly used in fields of communications, multimedia, biometrics, big data, cloud computing, data mining, internet, social networks, and audio–video surveillance.[8]