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Data Anonymisation: What is it?

This guide aims to create awareness of basic data anonymisation concepts

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Definition

Anonymisation refers to the process of removing or modifying personal identifier, both direct and indirect. 

Anonymisation results in anonymised data that cannot be associated with any one individual.

Terms and Their Meanings

Direct Identifier
A data attribute which, on its own, identifies an individual (e.g. fingerprint) or has been assigned to an individual (e.g. NRIC).

Indirect Identifier
A data attribute which, by itself, does not identify an individual, but when combined with other information, may identify an individual.

De-identification
Removal of identifying information from a dataset. This data could potentially be re-identified.

Re-identification
Identifying a person by recombining de-identified dataset and identifying information.

Why anonymisation?


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  • Allows data to be used by others while still protecting the privacy of individuals and organisations.
  • Allows data to be used by others while still complying with regulations (e.g. Singapore Personal Data Protection Act, EU General Data Protection Regulation) and/or contractual obligations.