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November 06, 2007

What's in an ANID?

ukpassport250 I promised some time ago that I'd post more information on the process by which we get the demographic data into Gatineau. As I mentioned before, this information comes ultimately from data that people provide when they sign up for a "Live ID" to access one of Microsoft's online services, such as Messenger or Hotmail (this ID was previously known as a "Passport" ID).

I also mentioned that we are careful (to say the least) to anonymize the data before we pass it over to Gatineau. The anonymization process relies on the creation of an intermediate "Anonymous ID", or ('cos we just love acronyms), the "ANID". But how does this process work? Well, my colleagues over at Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Initiative have posted an excellent white paper which explains how the ANID works and where it fits into the overall schema of the IDs and cookies you'll get when you use our online properties. The paper's here (PDF format):

Privacy Protections in Microsoft’s Ad Serving System and the Process of “De-identification”

I have only one beef with this white paper, and that's its rather lengthy title. Read it for a clear view of how we go about protecting the privacy of our online users, whilst at the same time using behavioral and demographic data to add value to the advertising inventory that we sell on our network.

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