KDnuggets : News : 2004 : n23 : item22 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >


Privacy's random answer

If IBM is right, corporate databases in the future might record your age as 157 and your income as the square root of two.

Big Blue is experimenting with an idea for customer databases called data randomization. The technique will, conceivably, preserve consumer privacy by masking data such as income, age, past purchases or medical information through mathematical calculations that can't be unwound.

For instance, if a customer submits their age as 38 when registering at an online shopping site, a randomizing plug-in in their browser software will add a number between minus 25 and 112 to their age and send that number over to the server.

"The basic notion, in some sense, is kind of heresy in computer science. The normal notion is, in order to do a good job, you need to have accurate information," said Rakesh Agrawal, a senior fellow at IBM who is leading the research. "And here we are saying, 'You have good information, and we are going to perturb it or put errors into it to protect people's privacy.'"

Here is the rest of the story.

KDnuggets : News : 2004 : n23 : item22 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

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