“Almost any data that starts with an individual is going to be identifiable,” Cate said. When tracking activity from mobile phones, “you actually collect the traffic. You may not care about the fact that it’s personally identifiable. It’s still going to be personally identifiable.”
King, the Harvard sociologist and data expert, agreed that the Chicago scientists will inevitably scoop up personally identifiable data.
“If they do a good job they’ll collect identifiable data. You can (gather) identifiable data with remarkably little information,” King said. “You have to be careful. Good things can produce bad things.”