Anonymized Data Meaning

The definition of anonymized data is data that has been stripped of personally identifiable information, also known as PII.

Anonymized data can be helpful for research purposes, as well as for compliance with privacy regulations. But it's important to note that there's often more than one kind of PII. The obvious ones are name, address and social security number, but it also includes things like IP address, biometrics and phone number. If a user can't be identified by any of this information, then the data is considered anonymized.

The anonymity of data is important because if it has been properly anonymized, it legally cannot be used to identify anyone — even if hackers were to steal it. That makes it useful for certain situations where you need to analyze large amounts of data but want to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Anonymized data is data which has been processed in such a way that the original identifying characteristics have been removed. It therefore can't be linked back to any specific person, even if it's combined with other information sources.

The term "anonymize" is in fact a misnomer, because there is no way to guarantee that anonymized data can't be re-identified. However, anonymization techniques do have the potential to make data less personal, and reduce the risk of re-identification.

How to anonymize data

While many organizations adopt processes for anonymizing data at source (e.g. removing names and addresses from forms before they're processed), others choose to do so later in the process. This is often preferable as it allows for better efficiencies, and means you're able to keep all your information together in one place rather than distributing copies across multiple sources.

It's also possible to anonymize data retrospectively by de-identifying it after it's been collected or used for a certain period of time.

What are the methods?

  • Generalization. This is the process of removing parts of the data to make it so that identifying it is more difficult or impossible. For example, collecting someones postal code or zipcode, but removing the last 3 digits in order to maintain some level of discretion while still being accurate.
  • Pseudonymization. This is the process of giving parts of data different or private identifiers that are not that of the original source. In contrast to generalization, this method allows for a full picture of the data without compromising the identity or privacy of the user who disclosed it.
  • Data masking. This process hides or alters data values. This is the safest way to prevent reverse engineering information, but has its cons in that the original data may be more difficult to access for those who have permission to do so.

Examples

Anonymized data is a type of data that has been processed to remove any personally identifiable information. This type of data is often used in research, analytics, and other data-driven activities. Anonymized data can be used to protect the privacy of individuals while still allowing for meaningful analysis.

One example of anonymized data is a dataset that has been stripped of any personally identifiable information such as names, addresses, and phone numbers. This type of data can be used to analyze trends and patterns without the risk of exposing any individual's personal information. For example, a data analyst may use anonymized data to analyze the purchasing habits of a particular demographic without having to know the identity of the individuals in the dataset.

Another example of anonymized data is a dataset that has been stripped of any information that could be used to identify an individual, such as IP addresses and geolocation data. This type of data can be used to analyze the behavior of users on a website or mobile app without revealing their identity. For example, a data analyst may use anonymized data to analyze the behavior of users on a website to determine which features are most popular or to identify areas of improvement.

Finally, anonymized data can also be used to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. By stripping out any personally identifiable information from the data, a data analyst can measure the success of a campaign without having to know the identity of the individuals who responded to the campaign.

Overall, anonymized data is an important tool for data analysts and researchers. By removing any personally identifiable information from a dataset, it allows for meaningful analysis without compromising the privacy of individuals.

Learn more about Secoda

Secoda is the perfect home for your data knowledge. It allows you to easily access and manage all your data from Big Query, Looker, dbt, and more in one convenient location. With Secoda, you can quickly and easily explore your data, create powerful visualizations, and gain valuable insights. It also provides a secure and reliable platform for data storage, making it the ideal solution for organizations looking to maximize their data potential. Try Secoda for free today.