Privacy and Data-Based Research

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What can we, as users of microdata, formally guarantee to the individuals (or firms) in our dataset, regarding their privacy? We retell a few stories, well-known in data-privacy circles, of failed anonymization attempts in publicly released datasets. We then provide a mostly informal introduction to several ideas from the literature on differential privacy, an active literature in computer science that studies formal approaches to preserving the privacy of individuals in statistical databases. We apply some of its insights to situations routinely faced by applied economists, emphasizing big-data contexts.

Link to resource:

Type of resources: Primary Source, Reading, Paper

Education level(s): College / Upper Division (Undergraduates)

Primary user(s): Student

Subject area(s): Social Science

Language(s): English