schwit1 writes: Researchers in a number of fields want access to the vast amount of private government data that is routinely gathered from the public. Nature reports: "In the past few years, administrative data have been used to investigate issues ranging from the side effects of vaccines to the lasting impact of a child's neighborhood on his or her ability to earn and prosper as an adult. Proponents say that these rich information sources could greatly improve how governments measure the effectiveness of social programs such as providing stipends to help families move to more resource-rich neighborhoods. But there is also concern that the rush to use this data could pose new threats to citizens' privacy. 'The types of protections that we're used to thinking about have been based on the twin pillars of anonymity and informed consent, and neither of those hold in this new world,' says Julia Lane, an economist at New York University. In 2013, for instance, researchers showed that they could uncover the identities of supposedly anonymous participants in a genetic study simply by cross-referencing their data with publicly available genealogical information."
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