Storing personally identifiable data needed for authentication wins a patent
A patent has been issued for a way of storing anonymized identifiers rather than storing personally identifiable information. It is designed to be used with physical identification documents.
The U.S. patent office issued US 11,210,510 to Ralph Rodriguez and Facebook in the final days of last year. The method would make it unnecessary to put consumers’ personal information on a database in the cloud or anywhere else.
According to the patent document for ‘Storing anonymized identifiers instead of personally identifiable information,’ a one-way hashing function converts personally identifiable information into a unique digest. The digest gets stored, not the valuable PII.
Digests can be used as anonymized identifiers because the hashing creates the same digest when receives the same input, in this case a digitized ID. The patent also indicates the method can be used for confirming the previous authentication of the ID document.
Characteristics from the document that identify the owner of the document are extracted and split into a plurality of tiers “based on a likelihood that information for the characteristics will change.”
Characteristics can be any of a number of data points, including a photograph. Demographic information, customer account data, ethnicity, arrest records and banking information are on that list.
Hash functions create digests for each plurality.
Privacy has long been a contentious issue at Facebook, and is featured prominently among the touted benefits of its move to become Meta.
A discussion of the patent and its practicalities is ongoing at Rodriguez’s LinkedIn account.