Balancing Privacy and Progress in Artificial Intelligence: Anonymization in Histopathology for Biomedical Research and Education

by   Neel Kanwal, et al.

The advancement of biomedical research heavily relies on access to large amounts of medical data. In the case of histopathology, Whole Slide Images (WSI) and clinicopathological information are valuable for developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms for Digital Pathology (DP). Transferring medical data "as open as possible" enhances the usability of the data for secondary purposes but poses a risk to patient privacy. At the same time, existing regulations push towards keeping medical data "as closed as necessary" to avoid re-identification risks. Generally, these legal regulations require the removal of sensitive data but do not consider the possibility of data linkage attacks due to modern image-matching algorithms. In addition, the lack of standardization in DP makes it harder to establish a single solution for all formats of WSIs. These challenges raise problems for bio-informatics researchers in balancing privacy and progress while developing AI algorithms. This paper explores the legal regulations and terminologies for medical data-sharing. We review existing approaches and highlight challenges from the histopathological perspective. We also present a data-sharing guideline for histological data to foster multidisciplinary research and education.


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