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Affiliation of those conducting re-identification attacks

Posted by kelemam on 27 May 2012 at 12:27 GMT

As we have been presenting the results of this research, a question has come up about the affiliations of the individuals who have conducted the re-identification attacks (in the papers that were part of the systematic review). We therefore re-examined the data and produced the following summary characterizing the affiliations of the authors of the re-idenitfication attacks that came out of our review:

There were 29 unique authors in total.

The field by affiliation of the authors was:
computer science / engineering / mathematics: 15 (52%)
social science: 5 (17%)
health: 5 (17%)
media: 3 (10%)
government: 1 (4%)

Most of the authors of the attacks were affiliated with computer science / engineering / mathematics departments. However, social scientists and health researchers also conducted some of these attacks.

One caveat to note is that in one court case the actual individual who did the attack was affiliated with a computer science department, but the party in the case who brought in that expert was a public health department. We classified this as an attack conducted by someone who is affiliated with a computer science department rather than a health department.

Also, for authors working in industry we classified the affiliation by the main business of the company.

Competing interests declared: I am one of the co-authors of this paper.