The latest holy grail in the digital world, which purports to respect fundamental rights, is known by the acronym ‘PET’. That stands for ‘Privacy-Enhancing Technologies‘.
The UN is working on and with PET. Read the introduction of a webinar in February:
In recent years, almost every government has been faced with very serious challenges, such as the global health pandemic, supply chain disruption, rising energy and food prices, and decreasing household budgets. To handle these crises in the right way, our leaders need the right data at the right time. National statistical offices are tasked to provide these trusted, relevant, timely and high-quality data. Some of the required data are collected by NSOs themselves, such as data from a population census or from household or business surveys. However, to act swiftly on emerging issues, additional secondary data sources are needed such as administrative data (for example, tax records, social security data, health records or customs administration records) or private sector data (for example, mobile phone records or transactional credit card information). All of those data are very sensitive in terms of private information on persons or businesses.
To gain access to the sensitive data while guaranteeing that privacy will be preserved, privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) are receiving increased attention. Whereas legal arrangements on data sharing can lead to unwanted breaches, the promise of PETs is that privacy is guaranteed. If you cannot see the original data at any time, you cannot by accident reveal any original information.
See the website of the UN Committee of Experts on Big Data and Data Science for Official Statistics (UNBigData):
- PET page of UNBigData.
- The recently plublished PET guide: page, document (pdf).
- UN Handbook on Privacy-Preserving Computation Techniques: document (pdf).
- Page on the mandate of the UN Committee of Experts on Big Data and Data Science for Official Statistics.
- Webinar on Privacy-Enhancing Technologies for Official Statistics (54th Session of the United Nations Statistical Commission. Side Event), 9 February 2023, video.
- UN PET Lab Open House, held 7 July 2022.
IAPP: UN launches PETs initiative for data anonymization, 27 January 2023.