Data Privacy

Demonstrating data utility and balancing data risk

Data Privacy is in many ways the defining debates of the 21st century. Data can be distilled to information, giving the bearer knowledge and power. How should that power be shared and regulated when individuals are in the paradoxical position of producing that data, potentially benefiting hugely from it but also unable to extract that value themselves? 

The solution to safe and responsible use of data undoubtedly lies with the innovative use of technology. Various solutions exist to make data safer to share, such as anonymisation, pseudonimisation, blurring, aggregation and homomorphic encryption to name but a selection. Working to assist the most vulnerable people in the world, I have worked as part of teams pioneering new models for data sharing whereby sensitive data remains behind a firewall but the result of aggregation operations are able to pass across that firewall to provide potentially life saving and timely information. In addition, our work analysing the changing nature of data derived from mobile phone records under aggregation was among the first to quantify the trade-off between the utility and risk of using personal data.