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Term of the Day

Natural History Study

A natural history study is a preplanned intended to track the course of the disease. Its purpose is to identify demographic, genetic, environmental, and other variables (e.g., treatment modalities, concomitant medications) that correlate with the disease’s development and outcomes. Natural history studies are likely to include patients receiving the current standard of care and/or emergent care, which may alter some manifestations of the disease.


Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs)

Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) refer to a set of tools, applications, and practices designed to protect the privacy of individuals by minimizing the collection, storage, and dissemination of personal data. PETs aim to provide individuals with greater control over their personal information, ensuring that it is used in a manner consistent with their preferences and expectations.Here are some key aspects and examples of PETs:

  1. Data Minimization: This principle ensures that only the necessary amount of personal data is collected and processed. For instance, if a service only needs to know a user's age range and not their exact age, then only the age range should be collected.
  2. Anonymization and Pseudonymization:
  3. Anonymization refers to the process of removing personally identifiable information where identification of data can not occur without additional information that is held separately.
  4. Pseudonymization is a method where personal data fields are replaced with artificial identifiers or pseudonyms. This allows data to be matched with its source without revealing the actual source.
  5. Encryption: This is a method of converting data into a code to prevent unauthorized access. Both data in transit (e.g., data being transferred over the internet) and data at rest (e.g., data stored on a hard drive) can be encrypted.
  6. Differential Privacy: This is a system that allows companies to share aggregate information about user habits while maintaining the privacy of individual users. It introduces "noise" to the data in a way that prevents the identification of any single individual.
  7. Zero-Knowledge Proofs: This is a cryptographic method where one party (the prover) can prove to another party (the verifier) that they know a value x, without conveying any information apart from the fact that they know the value x.
  8. Private Browsing Modes: Many web browsers offer a mode where browsing history, cookies, and temporary files are not stored, offering a more private browsing experience.
  9. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): VPNs allow users to create a secure connection to another network over the internet. This can shield browsing activity from prying eyes on public networks.
  10. Tor Network: Tor is a free software for enabling anonymous communication on the internet. It directs internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer overlay network to conceal a user's location and usage from network surveillance or traffic analysis.
  11. Secure Multi-Party Computation (SMPC): This allows multiple parties to compute a function over their inputs while keeping those inputs private.