Sunday, October 25, 2015

Letter RE "We'll See You Anon," Economist - Instead restricting our data exhaust, regulate what we can do with it

Data anonymity is a huge problem, particularly in the area of genetics where DNA, axiomatically, perfectly and uniquely identifies its owner. And, as the article suggests, locking down and limiting access to data will only hinder research and stymie innovation. Perhaps then, the best solution relates to the very source of this data exhaust, multiple sets of changing norms where we, as a society, no longer dogmatically desire anonymity for every aspect of our lives, or at minimum, have come to peace with the lack of privacy in the modern age. In acknowledging the changing realities, instead of regulating how to seek out data, perhaps its best to regulate how that data can be used to harm, for example, in limiting employment or insurance opportunities, thereby further reducing the need for anonymity of formerly sensitive data and allowing useful research to continue.

Dov Greenbaum and Mark Gerstein

Unpublished letter in response to:
"We'll See You Anon," Economist
August 15, 2015