Dumb Anonymous Data vs. Smart Anonymous Data.
Dumb vs. Smart Anonymous Data

Weve Seen Differences Like This Before

Chances are you have never heard the term ‘dumb anonymous data’. I know I hadn’t the first time I said it. For me the term clicked immediately. It was just one of those descriptions that once it comes out you realize it describes the situation perfectly.  Allow me to explain. 

The minting of this term came during a meeting with a potential client. He had just stated they investigated different means of anonymizing data but none of them worked for them. As much as they tried to work within the boundaries of GDPR, they quickly realized it was difficult to work with anything but identified data.  When they anonymized the data, it lost all its versatility and was completely inadequate. 

“That is because current anonymization techniques leave your data dumb.” I responded.  Dumb anonymous data is mostly useless. You can do simple aggregations and such, but anonymized data using legacy technology like differential privacy or tokenization is essentially lobotomizing it.  

On the other hand, anonymization techniques such as those employed by Anonomatic PII Vault™ make your data smart through a process we call poly-anonymization™, which strips any personal identifying pieces of information and swaps it out for a poly-anonymous identifier (Poly-ID).  This way the data loses none of its value or functionality and you can continue to use it as if it were fully identified. For example, you can combine records for the same person, you can aggregate by key demographics, and you can even join data from different sources with no synchronization of tokenization formulas. You can safely share it, receive it or even sell it and still be complying. Send your data over international borders, have data scientists anywhere in the world work on it and bring the results back to update your central databases. You can even build entirely new transactional or data warehouse solutions all with smart anonymous data. The possibilities are endless. 

Dumb vs smart anonymized data can be compared to telephones today and thirty years ago. A wall mounted analog rotary telephone may still allow you to make phone calls but that’s It – nothing smart or versatile about it.  Today’s smart phones are an integral part of our daily life and there is no limit to what you can do with one.  So, why work with dumb anonymous data techniques of yesterday when you can work with smart anonymous data today? 



Matthew Fleck