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‘Pseudonymisation at source’ undermines accuracy of record linkage

Goldstein, H; Harron, K; (2018) ‘Pseudonymisation at source’ undermines accuracy of record linkage. [Editorial comment]. Journal of Public Health , 40 (2) pp. 219-220. 10.1093/pubmed/fdy083. Green open access

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Abstract

Pseudonymisation is one element of a range of measures that can be used to protect the privacy of individuals. ‘Pseudonymisation at source’ is a technique used by data providers to avoid identification of individuals before data are linked for secondary uses such as service evaluation or research. The technique involves replacement of direct identifiers, known as ‘personal data’ or ‘confidential patient information’, such as NHS number, date of birth and postcode, with a pseudonym, which does not reveal a person’s real world identity. Use of the same pseudonymisation key for multiple data sources before data are shared enables data sources to be linked together without using ‘personal data’ and therefore avoids the need for patient consent or other legal provision under the Data Protection Act or the General Data Protection Regulation. As we discuss below, however, this limits the utility and quality of any resulting linked datasets.

Type: Article
Title: ‘Pseudonymisation at source’ undermines accuracy of record linkage
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy083
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdy083
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067033
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