On April 10, 2014, the European Union’s Article 29 Data Protection Working Party adopted ‘‘Opinion 05/2014 on Anonymisation Techniques’’ (WP216).  The Working Party, made up of the national data protection authorities of the EU member states, acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that most anonymisation techniques have inherent limitations.

However, the publication of the Opinion is timely, as ever-increasing amounts of data are being captured via devices and networks, stored cheaply and interrogated ever more creatively as  technologies evolve. This wholesale collection and processing of data may provide clear benefits for society, individuals and organisations, but, under EU law, such benefits must be derived lawfully, and that requires respecting the protection of the individual’s personal data and the right to a private life.

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