Are They Making Our Privates Public? – Emerging Risks of Governmental Open Data Initiatives

  • Thomas P. Keenan
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 375)


Governments around the world are opening their data vaults to public (and corporate) access and scrutiny. Notable examples including New York City’s NYC Datamine, Philadelphia’s OpenData Philly, Europe’s Open Data Challenge, and Canada’s Open Data Framework, which now spans several cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa. Anyone can read government plans, budgets, contractor lists, and in many cases, documents relating to individual citizens. The intention behind these data transparency projects is laudable, but it behooves those interested in privacy to take a careful look at just what information our governments are sharing with the world. There have already been “Open Data Hackathons” which have discovered interesting and unforeseen vulnerabilities, often by combining multiple data sources. There are also commercial ventures using government released data in combination with other sources in ways that were never anticipated, such as genealogical research. We are breaking new ground here and we need to generate new principles to protect privacy in the face of data that is going from “public” to “super-public”.


Open Data Lynch Syndrome Home Address Personal Privacy Identity Theft 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas P. Keenan
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental Design, Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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