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Practices for generating non-identifiable data


Canadian Anonymization Network (CANON)



Project Leader(s)

Khaled El Emam


This project documented current practices used by Canadian organizations to generate, use, and disclose non-identifiable data. The organizations studied represent some of the most sophisticated users of data and have invested heavily to do so in a responsible manner. The objective of documenting and structuring these practices is to share them with a wider community, and also identify what works and what requires improvement. Some of the improvements identified will be undertaken by CANON to the extent that they fall within our mandate, but there are broader changes that are necessary and will require regulators, legislators, and data users to take a lead on.

The report starts with a level-setting exercise in which the vocabulary, techniques and use cases for rendering information non-identifiable are defined. Data was collected from the CANON membership through a series of interviews of exemplar case studies that operationalize these use cases. The case studies cover multiple industries and demonstrate how organizations are generating, using, and disclosing non-identifiable data, as well as the benefits and challenges. The report concludes with some key design patterns that reflect the most common topologies uncovered in the interviews.

The ultimate objective of this project – and of CANON more generally – is to ensure that best practices for rendering data non-identifiable are both well understood and followed within Canada, and to develop the knowledge and community of practice to enable that.

Project deliverables are available in the following language(s)


OPC Funded Project

This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.

Contact Information

Khaled El Emam
CHEO Research Institute
401 Smyth Road
Ottawa, ON K1H 8L1
Telephone: (613) 737-7600, ext. 6771

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