Personal IDs in Sweden

You know it has felt pretty wierd to be a new parent in Sweden. When I am presenting at conferences I often joke that in Sweden not only are babies born with 5 fingers, toes and those vital organs needed to survive but also with a personal number. In fact it is difficult to survive in Sweden without this although it is not compulsory.

The personal number is not so difficult to guess with date of birth followed by 4 random numbers, even if it is a girl and odd if it is a boy: YYMMDD-xxxx.

I have mixed feelings about this as although from a privacy perspective it goes against what I believe in. Regardless it is very convenient! What’s more I was surprised by my reaction as a new parent when Ivy’s personal ID arrived. I rushed over to Ivy’s pappa as a proud parent to share that Ivy now officially existed…in the system. It felt kind of good. Human nature can be somewhat wierd and is a part of the dilemma we all face when it comes to our privacy. …

The feeling of wanting to belong and feel safe versus our privacy.

How anonymous is your anonymised data?

The question is how anonymous is your data once stripped of ‘personal identifying information’ (PII) when used by data aggregation companies for analysis. PII can include name, postcode, etc. I made a couple of blog posts in 2008 concerning this. According to a study led by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, previously anonymised data were able to be correlated again from patient prescription records rending the anonymising process ineffective and a threat to patient privacy.