“Anonymized” data frequently isn’t

An in-the-closet lesbian mother is suing Netflix for privacy invasion, alleging the movie rental company made it possible for her to be outed when it disclosed insufficiently anonymous information about nearly half-a-million customers as part of its $1 million contest to improve its recommendation system.

The suit known as Doe v. Netflix (.pdf) was filed in federal court in California on Thursday, alleging that Netflix violated fair-trade laws and a federal privacy law protecting video rental records, when it launched its popular contest in September 2006.

via Netflix Spilled Your Brokeback Mountain Secret, Lawsuit Claims | Threat Level | Wired.com.

(As the article goes on to make clear, this problem has been known for a while. Netflix ignored it at its peril.)

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