Detailed study shows cell-phone mobility traces are extremely unique

A detailed study directed by the MIT Media Lab reveals that human mobility traces (e.g., where a person goes over time) as determined my mobile phone networks are extremely personally identifying.

The study then evaluates how well traces can still be uniquely determined if their resolution is reduced spatially and temporally, revealing that this technique works less than 1/10th as effective as previously thought.

The implications of this study may throw a wrench into attempts for individuals to release ‘anonymised’ data for research, as well as raise questions regarding the individuals and entities that have access to cell-tower records.

(image courtesy of


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