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Anonymization and pseudonymization are crucial techniques for protecting personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Anonymization refers to the process of altering personal data in such a way that it is no longer identifiable to an individual. Once data is anonymized, it falls outside the scope of GDPR, as it can no longer be traced back to a person, making it ideal for research and analytics where privacy must be maintained.

Pseudonymization, on the other hand, involves processing personal data in a manner that it can no longer be attributed to a specific individual without additional information. This technique replaces identifiable information with pseudonyms or codes. While pseudonymized data remains under GDPR’s purview, it provides a layer of security that mitigates privacy risks, as re-identification requires access to the separate key or additional data.

Under GDPR, both techniques support the principles of data minimization and privacy by design. Pseudonymization is explicitly encouraged by GDPR (Recital 29 and Article 25) as a means to enhance data protection while allowing useful data processing. For instance, it can facilitate the safe use of data in healthcare research or financial analysis while ensuring individual privacy.

Organizations employing these techniques must still comply with GDPR’s broader requirements, including rights of data subjects, lawful processing, and data security. For pseudonymized data, safeguards must be in place to prevent unauthorized re-identification, and access to the key data that links pseudonyms to individuals must be strictly controlled.

While anonymization removes personal data from GDPR’s scope by irreversibly de-identifying it, pseudonymization enhances privacy protection while keeping the data within GDPR’s regulatory framework. Both are vital tools for data protection strategies, ensuring compliance while enabling valuable data use.


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