Format

Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2015 Mar 25;10(3):e0120592. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120592. eCollection 2015.

A game theoretic framework for analyzing re-identification risk.

Author information

1
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.
2
Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, United States of America.
3
Department of Computer Science, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas, United States of America.
4
Department of Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.

Abstract

Given the potential wealth of insights in personal data the big databases can provide, many organizations aim to share data while protecting privacy by sharing de-identified data, but are concerned because various demonstrations show such data can be re-identified. Yet these investigations focus on how attacks can be perpetrated, not the likelihood they will be realized. This paper introduces a game theoretic framework that enables a publisher to balance re-identification risk with the value of sharing data, leveraging a natural assumption that a recipient only attempts re-identification if its potential gains outweigh the costs. We apply the framework to a real case study, where the value of the data to the publisher is the actual grant funding dollar amounts from a national sponsor and the re-identification gain of the recipient is the fine paid to a regulator for violation of federal privacy rules. There are three notable findings: 1) it is possible to achieve zero risk, in that the recipient never gains from re-identification, while sharing almost as much data as the optimal solution that allows for a small amount of risk; 2) the zero-risk solution enables sharing much more data than a commonly invoked de-identification policy of the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); and 3) a sensitivity analysis demonstrates these findings are robust to order-of-magnitude changes in player losses and gains. In combination, these findings provide support that such a framework can enable pragmatic policy decisions about de-identified data sharing.

PMID:
25807380
PMCID:
PMC4373733
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0120592
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center