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Privacy Utility

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Author(s)

Ritchie School Communications Team

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Web trackers are constantly trying to collate all of our presence in the digital world. How easily can you be tracked in the digital realm? While we are becoming careful about what we share on the Internet, we are also ignorant of several other pieces of information that we may mistakenly believe to be non-identifying. For example, how easy is it to track you across the Internet using just your gender, zip code and date of birth? The more the number of people who has the same gender, zip code and date of birth as yours, the harder it will be to track you using these three pieces of information. This utility tells you the chances that there is no one else with the same information as yours. It also tells you the chances that only one or two other individuals has the same gender, zip code, and date of birth as yours.

This utility, that was created in the Department of Computer Science, will inform you of the level of anonymity you can expect when sharing your de-identified demographic data. The only similar website (that we know of) with this information is http://aboutmyinfo.org/; although it does not break down the percentage as we do here. Both websites are motivated by the same study. Technically, the tool is not hard to create; you need the latest census data and some statistical calculations. But, the information it reveals can be eye opening.

privacylessons.org/howuniqueami