protecting personally identifiable information when using online geographic tools for public health research

While online geographic tools using "Big Data" allow new research opportunities, they also create new ways to violate human participant protections. Researchers may pass personally identifiable information—information such as addresses—to online service providers not covered by institutional review boards. The terms of service for most service providers permit those providers to use data in manners of their choosing, which could include ways to violate human protections. We present methods to collect rich spatial data while preventing personally identifiable information from being passed to online service providers.

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