Privacy and Security Considerations

Anyone using data must be aware of the nature of the data and the laws associated with gathering and managing the data. Researchers generally must request permission to gather data and must follow careful guidelines in the gathering and handling of the data. For example, if the data gathered is sensitive and contains identifying personal information, users must follow strict guidelines about getting permission from participants, who is allowed to see the data, and how the data is to be stored. There are important privacy considerations when dealing with data about people–even data that may seem innocent. It is important to note that anonymity does not guarantee privacy. It is possible for public data to be anonymous (not linked to personally identifying information), and it has been proven that anonymous data sets can be compared with other data sets to get identifying information, breaching both anonymity and privacy. Sometimes, laws require data to be made publicly available. There are government websites that are devoted to publicly available data that researchers can use to answer relevant questions. Some of the privacy considerations and concerns are discussed here.