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Machine learning to re-identify anonymized data

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Researchers from Imperial College London and the Catholic University of Louvain (UCLouvain) in Belgium explain in an article that it is possible to re-identify individuals by reverse-engineering a sample of anonymous data to the using machine learning techniques.

The main solution for sharing data while preserving the privacy of individuals is to remove from the dataset the registration of direct identifiers such as name and email address, and to share only a portion of these. data. For example, consider the case of several women in their thirties living in Brisbane, Australia. Looking for these demographics in a sample of anonymized data should, therefore, theoretically find any number of people. “But the problem is that it does not work,” the researchers said. With only a few more attributes, a record is quickly becoming more exceptional.

The statistical model of researchers quantifies the probability that an attempt at re-identification will succeed, even with a “very incomplete” dataset. For example, according to an online tool that supports their demonstration, with only gender, marital status, date of birth, and postal code, there is a 86% chance of correctly identifying an individual in any set of anonymized data. “This is information quite commonly requested by companies,” said Dr. Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, lead author of the article “Estimating the success of re-identifications in incomplete datasets using generative models” published in Nature Communications. According to this publication, 99.98% of Americans were correctly re-identified in any anonymized data set available using only 15 characteristics, including age, gender, and marital status.

Any facts, grouped together

Validated on 210 datasets from demographics and surveys, researchers say their technique – which uses Gaussian copulas to model uniqueness – shows that “even very small sample sizes are not enough to prevent re-identification and protect the data “. In fact, “contrary to popular belief, the sampling of a dataset does not offer plausible deniability and does not effectively protect the privacy of individuals,” added Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye.

Shared and exchanged datasets often contain many attributes. For example, the Experian data broker sold Alteryx access to an anonymized dataset containing 248 attributes per household for 120 million Americans. “Even though there are a lot of people in their thirties, male, living in New York, there are fewer people who were born on January 5, drive a red sports car and live with two children, two girls, and a dog. There is probably only one individual meeting these criteria, “said Dr. Luc Rocher, co-author of the article. There are few protections against such attempts to re-identify – although the Australian federal government has already considered criminalizing the re-identification of Commonwealth datasets disclosed as part of its open data program.

A risk of re-identification downplayed by governments

The sale of a sample of anonymous data means that they are no longer subject to data protection regulations – such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). of the State of California – and therefore they can be freely used and sold to third parties such as advertising agencies and data brokers. In its “Disidentification” Guide published last year, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Australia states that sampling creates “the uncertainty that a particular person is included in the data set”. But, according to Mr. de Montjoye, “businesses and governments minimize the risk of re-identification by arguing that the datasets they sell are still incomplete. Our findings show that this might not be helpful. “

There are many examples of supposedly anonymous data sets that were later disclosed and reidentified. In 2016, journalists re-identified public figures in a set of anonymized data corresponding to the browsing history of 3 million German citizens they acquired for free from a data broker. They were able to rediscover a judge’s pornography preferences and the drugs used by a member of Parliament. In the same year, researchers at the University of Melbourne were able to decrypt identification numbers used by service providers in a 10% sample of medical billing records published by the Australian Department of Health. This sample could allow Medicare service providers to re-identify data in the dataset.

Stricter rules for anonymous sharing of requested data

A year later, the same researchers showed how patients could also be re-identified by linking unencrypted portions of their records to known information about the person. “A few banal facts taken together are often enough to isolate an individual,” remark Culnane et al. Imperial College and UCLouvain researchers have called for stricter rules on anonymous sharing of data. “The purpose of anonymisation is to facilitate the use of data for the benefit of society. This is extremely important, but it should not and should not be at the expense of the privacy of individuals, “said Professor Julien Hendrickx, another co-author of the article. “It is essential to apply robust anonymization standards and to take into account new threats such as those shown in this document,” he added.

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Wanda To Build Over 100 4D Cinemas In China

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– Wanda Cinema Line is expanding cooperation with MediaMation and CJ4D Plex to build over 100 new “4D” cinemas in China.
– 4D cinema technology goes one step beyond 3D cinemas by featuring shaking seats, water spray, and scents.
– MediaMation and CJ4D will provide MX4D and 4DX technology and equipment to Wanda, including special seats, and light, smoke, and wind machines.

Wanda Cinema Line, China’s biggest movie-theater operator, is expanding cooperation with U.S. company MediaMation and South Korea’s CJ4D Plex to build over 100 new “4D” cinemas in China.

4D cinema technology goes one step beyond 3D cinemas by featuring shaking seats, water spray, and scents to provide a multiple sensory cinematic experience.

MediaMation and CJ4D will provide MX4D and 4DX technology and equipment to Wanda, including special seats, and light, smoke, and wind machines, according to the Wanda Cinema website (link in Chinese).

“Wanda Cinema is China’s 4D viewing trendsetter.” Liu Xiaobin, executive chairman of Wanda Cinema Line Cooperation said in the statement. “I believe Wanda Cinema will be able to provide more diverse viewing options and disrupt the cinema-going experience for audiences through this deal.”

China is now the world’s second-largest film market, and the country is expected to surpass North America as the biggest box office territory in the next few years.

Theaters are being built in China at a rapid clip. Wanda Cinema Line CEO Zeng Maojun said in June that the number of theaters could go from around 40,000 screens to 120,000, based on the United States’ example.

Wanda and MediaMation opened in China in the early 2000s, followed by another in Wanda’s hometown of Dalian. The two companies are also working together in Changchun, Fuzhou, Wuhu, Harbin, Guangzhou, and Changsha, among others.

In August, Wanda announced it will build 4,000 3D screens in its theaters across the country in collaboration with Beverly Hills company RealD. This is the largest 3D screen installation in history.

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Kuiper Project- Amazon is waiting for green light to launch its own Internet satellites

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Unveiled last April, the e-commerce giant’s Kuiper project is deploying exactly 3,236 satellites in orbit to develop a global Internet network.

The project has just taken a step further as it is now known that Amazon has filed a formal request with the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Does Jeff Bezos intend to compete here with Elon Musk and his Starlink satellite constellation?

It is clear that with their two companies, Blue Origin and SpaceX, these two rivals are often face to face; now it’s Amazon’s turn to enter the race!

Amazon submits its Kuiper project to the FCC

You heard about it last April when Amazon unveiled this ambitious project that aims to provide high-speed Internet access on nearly 95% of the world’s surface, “a long-term project that targets tens of millions of people who do not have basic Internet access, “according to the company.

We now know a little more about this famous project since it has just passed an extra step. On Monday, July 5, Amazon has filed its formal application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), however, its approval may take some time, as was already the case for the constellation Starlink SpaceX.

No calendar for the moment

If no timetable has yet been set for putting this constellation of satellites into orbit, we know a little more about it thanks to this request from the FCC. Thus, we learn that Amazon intends to place its satellites at 590 km, 610 km and 630 km altitude and that they will operate in Ka-band, like Iridium telephony satellites.

Read also:
Clean Space: ESA initiative to stem the rise of space debris

Finally, like Elon Musk with Starlink, Amazon has expressed its concerns about the problem of space debris.
The multinational has indeed indicated that its satellites would be desorbed after 10 years of service, whether or not they lost contact with the Earth.

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Faster, Huawei’s alternative to Android would require its own apps store

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Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei spoke about HongMeng, the alternative operating system for Android under development. Judged 60% faster than the Google OS, it lacks however a large component: an application store. So, in June, the Chinese company called on developers to publish their creations on its AppGallery platform.

In late June, Donald Trump spoke of a partial lifting of sanctions imposed on Huawei. However, no way out of crisis has been communicated since his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Huawei minimizes its reliance on Google

Despite Donald Trump’s appeasement, giant Huawei is still blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce. Thus, the Chinese company still can not use the Android operating system of Google for its terminals. However, the recent statements of Ren Zhengfei, founder and P.-D.G. from Huawei, suggest that the company appreciates its new independence.

Indeed, following the national urgency invoked by Donald Trump and the consequences that followed, Huawei has developed its own operating system for its future smartphones: HongMeng OS. In addition to meeting the constraints imposed by the United States, the goal of the latter was to minimize the dependence of Chinese society on Google and Android. A great success, since HongMeng OS would be 60% faster than Android.

Huawei may not return to Android

The operating system developed by Huawei is designed to work on many devices, including smartphones and cars. However, it lacks a serious alternative to the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. The Chinese giant is working to develop this alternative. Thus, in June, the company invited developers to publish their applications on AppGallery, the application platform of Huawei.

Since the development of HongMeng OS is well advanced, Huawei could continue to use its operating system, even if the sanctions of the United States were lifted. In addition, although some smartphones from Chinese manufacturers are equipped with Qualcomm chips, most of its devices have Huawei Kirrin processors. Thus, the Chinese manufacturer could emerge from this event with more autonomy, and even stronger than before.

However, a spokesman for the company leaves room for doubt: “Today, we are still attached to Microsoft Windows and Google Android. But if we can not use them, we will prepare a plan B to use our own operating system. ” Already, Plan B seems almost ready and effective enough.

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