A Systematic Approach to Anonymity

Sabah S. Al-Fedaghi


Personal information anonymity concerns anonymizing information that identifies individuals, in contrast to anonymizing activities such as downloading copyrighted items on the Internet. It may refer to encrypting personal data, generalization and suppression as in k-anonymization, ‘untraceability’ or ‘unidentifiability’ of identity in the network, etc. A common notion is hiding the “identities” of persons to whom the data refers to. We introduce a systematic framework of personal information anonymization by utilizing a new definition of private information based on referents to persons in linguistic assertions. Anonymization is classified with respect to its content, its proprietor (the person it refers to) or its possessor. A general methodology is introduced to anonymize private information, based on canonical forms that include a personal identity. The methodology is applied both to textual and tabular data.


  1. Al-Fedaghi, S.: The 'Right to Let Alone' and Private Information, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems, Miami, USA (2005).
  2. Al-Fedaghi S., Fiedler G., and and Thalheim B.: Privacy Enhanced Information Systems, Proceedings of The 15th European-Japanese Conference on Information Modelling And Knowledge Bases: Tallinn, Estonia (2005).
  3. Baker, Stewart: Testimony Before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, December 8 (2003). http://www.911commission.gov/hearings/hearing6/witness_baker.pdf
  4. Baker, S., Kees Kuilwijk, Winnie Chang and Daniel Mah: ANONYMIZATION, DATAMATCHING AND PRIVACY: A CASE STUDY, (2003) http://www.911commission.gov/hearings/hearing6/witness_baker.pdf .
  5. Baud RH, Lovis C, Ruch P, Rassinoux AM.: A Toolset for Medical Text Processing. Medical Informatics Europe, Hannover 2000, MIE 2000, IOS Press (2000).
  6. EU Directive 1995/46/EC: On the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, Official Journal of the European Communities, No. L 281, 23.11.(1995).
  7. Federal Data Protection 1990-2001, Act of 20 December 1990 (Federal Gazette I, p. 2954, 2955), amended 18 May 2001; at § 3a.
  8. Floridi di Luciano: Information Ethics: On the Philosophical Foundation of Computer Ethics, ETHICOMP98 The Fourth International Conference on Ethical Issues of Information Technology, (1998), http://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/floridi/ie.htm.
  9. HIPAA: Glossary of Common Terms, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, http://healthcare.partners.org/phsirb/hipaaglos.htm#g3.
  10. Levy, Steven: Geek War on Terror, Newsweek, (2004), http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4486823/.
  11. Olsen, Stefanie: Privacy advocates question Net access to court docs, ZD Net, (2001), http://zdnet.com.com/2100-11-527611.html?legacy=zdnn.
  12. RFC 2828: Internet Security Glossary, Internet RFC/STD/FYI/BCP Archives, May (2000). http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2828.html
  13. Ruch, P., R. H. Baud, A-M Rassinoux, P. Bouillon, and G. Rober: Medical document anonymization with a semantic lexicon. In Proc. of the AMIA Fall Symposium, (2000) 729-733.
  14. Skuce, D.: Integrating web-based documents, shared knowledge bases, and information retrieval for user help, Computational Intelligence 16:1 (2000).
  15. Samarati, P.: Protecting Respondents' Identities in Microdata Release, IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, November/December, 13:6 (2001).
  16. Sweeney, Latanya: Replacing Personally-Identifying Information in Medical Records, the Scrub System. In: Cimino, JJ, ed. Proceedings, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Assoc. Washington, DC: Hanley & Belfus (1996) 333-337.
  17. Sweeney, Latanya: Guaranteeing Anonymity when Sharing Medical Data, the DataFly System, In Proc. of the AMIA Fall Symposium, (1997) 51-55.
  18. Taira, Ricky K., Alex A. T. Bui, and Hooshang Kangarloo: Identification of Patient Name References within Medical Documents Using Semantic Selectional Restrictions, Proceedings of the AMIA 2002 Annual Symposium, (2002).
  19. Teich, A.; Mark S. Frankel, Rob Kling, and Ya-ching Lee: ANONYMOUS COMMUNICATION POLICIES FOR THE INTERNET: RESULTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE AAAS CONFERENCE, The Information Society 15:2 (1999), http://www.indiana.edu/tisj/readers/full-text/15-2%20teich.pdf .
  20. Terraciano, Jeffrey: Can John Doe Stay Anonymous?, Wired News, Feb. 21 (2001), http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,41714,00.html.
  21. Wacks, R.: 'The Poverty of “Privacy”78, The Law Quarterly Review (1996) 73-95.
  22. Walden, Ian: ANONYMISING PERSONAL DATA, Int J Law Info Tech 2002 10: (2002) 224-237. http://research.imshealth.com/IMS%20HEALTH_valueofdata_files/Anonymision%20and %20European%20Data%20Protection%20Directive.pdf .

Paper Citation

in Harvard Style

S. Al-Fedaghi S. (2005). A Systematic Approach to Anonymity . In Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Security in Information Systems - Volume 1: WOSIS, (ICEIS 2005) ISBN 972-8865-25-2, pages 160-172. DOI: 10.5220/0002569401600172

in Bibtex Style

author={Sabah S. Al-Fedaghi},
title={A Systematic Approach to Anonymity},
booktitle={Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Security in Information Systems - Volume 1: WOSIS, (ICEIS 2005)},

in EndNote Style

JO - Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Security in Information Systems - Volume 1: WOSIS, (ICEIS 2005)
TI - A Systematic Approach to Anonymity
SN - 972-8865-25-2
AU - S. Al-Fedaghi S.
PY - 2005
SP - 160
EP - 172
DO - 10.5220/0002569401600172