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Data ethics body investigates privacy enhancing technologies


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) has called for examples of the use of privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) as part of its research on the issue.

The advisory body to government said it is engaging with stakeholders in the public sector, industry and academia to understand the workings of the technologies as a way of enabling data sharing and analysis while protecting privacy.

In a blogpost, Dave Buckley of the CDEI said that PETs can help to manage and mitigate some of the risks, and defined them as any technical method that protects the privacy of personal or sensitive information.

They include relatively simple technologies such as ad blocking software and encryption infrastructure, along with more complex, emerging techniques such as homomorphic encryption – which allows computations on encrypted data – and trusted executive environments – which can protect code and data in a processing environment isolated from a computer’s main processor and memory.

“These technologies support a range of use cases involving secure data processing, trustworthy data sharing, and privacy preserving machine learning,” Buckley said. “They may be particularly useful in sectors where highly sensitive data is the norm, such as healthcare and finance.”

He said the CDEI is aiming to identify barriers to the widespread adoption of PETs, how their use affects compliance with data protection regulations, how they might be used for harm, how this could be mitigated, and how they could be used beneficially.

The organisation has said it is open to feedback through [email protected].

Image from iStock

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