Uniqueness of Simple Demographics in the U.S. Population [Link]

Sometimes, math and statistics makes me sad:

“It was found that 87% (216 million of 248 million) of the population in the United States had reported characteristics that likely made them unique based only on {5-digit ZIP, gender, date of birth}. About half of the U.S. population (132 million of 248 million or 53%) are likely to be uniquely identified by only {place, gender, date of birth}, where place is basically the city, town, or municipality in which the person resides. And even at the county level, {county, gender, date of birth} are likely to uniquely identify 18% of the U.S. population. In general, few characteristics are needed to uniquely identify a person.”

It’s quite terrifying to know that such a birthdate, a zip code, and a gender could potentially pass as a unique identifier for someone with the vast and overreaching “anonymized” databases that exist out there.




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