Personal information can be protected by having it gradually fade away over time "like footprints in the sand," says the University of Twente's Harold van Heerde, who discusses storage structures, indexing methods, and log mechanisms in his dissertation, "Privacy-Aware Data Management by Means of Data Degradation: Making Private Information Less Sensitive Over Time." The dissertation shows that data degradation can be implemented with an acceptable loss of performance.
Van Heerde believes total security might be impossible to achieve, so he wants to shift the discussion to what information should be stored, why it should be stored, and how long it should be stored. Websites would have to consider the usefulness of the data they want to hold as they make prior agreements with their users.
Although current databases are optimized for long-term data storage and access, new techniques would be needed to enable the information to be efficiently and irretrievably erased.
From University of Twente (Netherlands)
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Abstracts Copyright © 2010 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA
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