Using some crypto to make gov't dataset identifiers better

Troy Benjegerdes hozer at
Sat Mar 22 08:43:04 PDT 2014

On Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 02:17:02PM -0400, Eric Mill wrote:
> So this is a little different from the usual fare here, but my colleague
> Tom Lee at the Sunlight Foundation has been thinking about using basic
> cryptographic concepts to convince governments to publish more unique
> identifiers in their datasets -- even when the identifiers they have in
> their *databases* is sensitive (like SSNs).
> The problem of anonymizing unique data is in some senses easier than others
> here, because in some gov't contexts, making things personally identifiable
> isn't the problem -- the *intent* is to publish personally identifiable,
> connect-able information, like for campaign donors and lobbyists. So the
> Mosaic Effect (de-anonymizing Netflix data) is less of a concern. Depends
> on the problem, though.
> After talking about it on a
> couple<!topic/sunlightlabs/CdCdB_0TCgc>of
> lists<>,
> Tom blogged it up:
> Your feedback would be very welcome, either here or in public fora. Of
> course, convincing government agencies to actually do this sort of thing
> might be a challenge, but there's a lot of levels and branches of
> government out there - you never know who might lead the way.

I need a reliable identifier to implement 

Now the next question is it mathematically possible to come up with a 
reliable and deterministic way of creating a public PII (identifier) with a
distributed system? What if, instead of government agencies, we had Notary
Publics sign a document with a 'secret' nonce to create the PII?

Troy Benjegerdes                 'da hozer'                  hozer at
7 elements      earth::water::air::fire::mind::spirit::soul

      Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel,
         nor try buy a hacker who makes money by the megahash

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