(PBS) Out of an anonymous set of credit card data from millions of people, how easily can you find one person?
Very easily, it turns out. It takes three pieces of outside information to correctly identify a person in an anonymous data set — even when the data removes easy identifiers like credit card numbers, names or addresses, said Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a graduate student in media arts and sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
According to a study in Thursday’s issue of Science, a crafty user has a 94 percent chance of tracking all of your purchases with three pieces of extra information — one receipt, an Instagram of your lunch, a Tweet about the new shoes you bought or Facebook post tagging the bar where you went for happy hour.
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