A generalized view on pseudonyms and domain specific local identifiers - Lessons learned from various use cases



U. Roth


International Journal on Advances in Security, vol. 7, no. 3 & 4, pp. 76-92, 2014


Pseudonymisation as a data privacy concept for medical data is not new. The process of pseudonymisation gets difficult in concrete use-case setups and the different variations of data flow between those who collect, who store, and who access the data. In all cases, questions have to be answered about, who has access to the demographics of a person, who has access to the pseudonym, and finally, who creates the pseudonym. Since a fundamental part of the pseudonym creation depends on the identification of a person on base of its demographics, things even get more difficult in case of unclear matching decisions, management of wrong matching or update of demographic information. In this journal article, a unified view on pseudonyms is proposed. Pseudonyms are treated as a local identifier in an identifier domain, but in a domain that has no demographics. Additionally, persistent identifiers are introduced that allow the handling of updates and internal matching reconsiderations. Finally, two concepts for pseudonymisation are shown: First, a National Pseudonymisation Service is sketched with focus on resistance against update problems and wrong matching decisions. It is designed to cover every possible variation of the exchange of local identifiers between a source of personal data and the storage destination. Second, an algorithm for the pseudonym creation from a person identifier is described. This algorithm is needed if the pseudonymisation is not performed by an external service but in-house and in case of limited number space of the pseudonyms. Both solutions are suitable to solve a huge variety of pseudonymisation setups, as it is demanded by researchers of clinical trials and studies.

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www.iariajournals.org/security/sec_v7_n34_2014_paged.pdf  (2 363,27 ko)

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