Google open sources Private Join and Compute, a tool for sharing confidential data sets

As part of its efforts to support user privacy and security, Google on Wednesday announced the open-source release of Private Join and Compute, a multi-party computation (MPC) tool designed to help organizations work together with confidential data sets.

“We continually invest in new research to advance innovations that preserve individual privacy while enabling valuable insights from data,” wrote engineering director Sarvar Patel and research scientist Moti Yung in a blog post. “Many important research, business, and social questions can be answered by combining data sets from independent parties, where each party holds their own information about a set of shared identifiers, some of which are common.”

Boiled down, Private Join and Compute is a cryptographic protocol that can be used jointly by two parties to encrypt data before sharing it with each other for research purposes. The system ensures that neither party reveals their raw data, and all identifiers and associated data remain fully encrypted and unreadable throughout the sharing process. The only thing that’s decrypted and shared is in the form of aggregated statistics, which organizations can then use to discover commonalities and glean insights. 

Google posits that Private Join and Compute could find widespread adoption in industries beyond academia, including public policy, diversity and inclusion, health care, and car safety standards. “By sharing the technology more widely, we hope this expands the use cases for secure computing,” wrote Patel and Yung. “This is just the beginning of what’s possible.”

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