Analysis of Risks to Data Privacy Throughout European Countries
Authors: Wayne Patterson
Abstract: Over 20 years ago, the surprising research by Latanya Sweeney demonstrated that publicly available database information exposed the overwhelming percentage of United States residents to information easily available in order to facilitate the capture of such personal information, through techniques we now refer to as “dumpster diving.” In particular, her research demonstrated that approximately 87% of the United States population can be identified uniquely using only the Unites States’ five digit postal code, date of birth (including year), and gender. Although this result has held up over time, given the demographic parameters used in developing this estimate, Sweeney’s technique made no attempt to develop similar estimates for other countries. In this paper, we use Sweeney’s technique in order to provide estimates of the ability of similar demographics to provide the same type of data in a number of other countries throughout the European Community and other non-EU countries in Europe. Through this mechanism, we attempt to determine the susceptibility to data privacy attacks in Europe as compared to the United States.
Keywords: Data Privacy, International, Population, Life Expectancy, Postal Codes, European Community
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