Disambiguation data: extracting information from anonymized sources.

S. Dreiseitl, S. Vinterbo, L. Ohno-Machado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Privacy protection is an important consideration when releasing medical databases to the research community. We show that while recent advances in anonymization algorithms provide increased levels of protection, it is still possible to calculate approximations to the original data set. In some cases, one can even uniquely reconstruct entries in a table before anonymization. In this paper, we demonstrate how knowledge of an anonymization algorithm based on ambiguating data cell entries can be used to undo the anonymization process. We investigate the effect of this algorithm and its reversal on data sets of varying sizes and distributions. It is shown that by using a computationally complex disambiguation process, information on individuals can be extracted from an anonymized data set.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-148
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings / AMIA ... Annual Symposium. AMIA Symposium
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Confidentiality
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized/organization & administration
  • Middle Aged
  • Privacy


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