De-identifying Data

De-identifying data is the process used to prevent someone’s personal identity from being revealed. Data that has been de-identified no longer triggers the Privacy Act.

Here is an example of sensitive data that has been published as open data. In this example, the risk of re-identification via triangulation has been considered and managed and the de-identified dataset can be downloaded from Research Data Australia.

Although the study contains highly sensitive data, several techniques have been used to de-identify the dataset; e.g. identifiers and dates of birth have been removed, ages have been aggregated into bands - and postcodes have been excluded. It would be possible to re-identify (triangulate) participants by combining (for example) a rural postcode with a rare occupation.

Think about de-identifying your data early as it can be time consuming and difficult later. Consult the relevant ANDS guides and seek discipline-specific advice as required.