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The Changing Nature of Data

Are addresses sensitive or private information? It's a good question to ask since many of us have address data in our databases. I asked this recently at a SQL in the City event and the room was split. I come down on the side of "no", for addresses in and of themselves. After all, the domain of addresses is known. It's public information in most every country.

A few people pointed out that while the address isn't private data, when it's linked to a particular person, it is private. It's not the address, but the linkage. To me this should give data modelers pause when trying to set up a schema, whether set in an RDBMS or a schema on read in some other type of data store. Separating the user from the address, and having a link that doesn't necessarily disclose private information can reduce the surface area of sensitive data in your system.

A second question: have you ever worried about your name being on a door or mailbox? I know some people in larger cities have, but that might be a minority. As I've visited friends, a name is often valuable to see on a mailbox, especially in my rural area where houses aren't very visible from a road. That might change, or need to change. An article in the Washington Post notes that in Vienna names are being replaced with numbers. The linkage to an actual person is being removed in response to a complaint. It this overkill? I don't know, but it is worth thinking about.

Google Street View and similar services might be affected. The service blurs faces, but it might need to start blurring addresses or even houses. I'm not sure I think that the images are problematic from a privacy perspective, but I also know that the ability to harvest data remotely and create linkages occurs at a scale and with a creativity that I would never have imagined.

Could a set of thieves search for people posting a vacation notice, image search for a house and then start correlating those images with Google Street View to find addresses? Sure, though arguably a search of public records for ownership might be easier. Many people rent, so maybe this is a bigger issue than I think? I'm not sure, and really, trying to determine how criminals might use data hurts my head.

I do try not to be too paranoid, but I do get concerned about data privacy. The stories of abuse I hear in the world are truly stunning. The creativity of criminals is scary. I don't know where to draw the lines, but I do think that we should neither be cavalier with data nor paranoid. There's a balance to be found, but one that needs debate and deep thought, not casual dismissal or overreaching concern. I hope as a society that we move in the direction of careful consideration as we derive some framework for both the protection and use of personal data.

Steve Jones - SSC Editor

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Redgate Database Devops
  Featured Contents

SQL and T-SQL for Beginners in 229 minutes

arthur from SQLServerCentral

The the basics of SQL and T-SQL in this short course of videos that explain some of the concepts.

Key findings from the State of SQL Server Monitoring

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Microsoft MVP Grant Fritchey provides an insight into the key findings from the report; what is the biggest challenge facing database professionals this year? How are estates changing? And what technologies are being used across the industry? Read Grant’s blog to find out.

SQL Server and Excel Hierarchyid Example for Organization Charts

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In this tip we look at how to build a hierarchy chart using the SQL Server hierarchyid data type and Excel to format the chart.

From the SQL Server Central Blogs - SQL Engine basics: Caching data

epivaral from SQL Guatemala

SQL Server engine does an excellent job to optimize query performance and it has different methods to achieve this goal, one of these methods is the data caching.Data caching...

From the SQL Server Central Blogs - Getting Started with Spawn

Steve Jones - SSC Editor from The Voice of the DBA

I’m excited that the Redgate Foundry is working on some cool projects. The Future of DevOps is one and part of that work is with Spawn. I’ve played with...


  Question of the Day

Today's question (by Steve Jones - SSC Editor):


Histogram Steps

In SQL Server 2017, what is the maximum number of steps in a column statistics histogram?

Think you know the answer? Click here, and find out if you are right.



  Yesterday's Question of the Day (by Steve Jones - SSC Editor)

Running a Docker Container

I want to practice working with SQL Server in a container for my development machine. Which of these variables must I specify when I execute the docker run command?


Explanation: This is not explicitly stated, but the SA_PASSWORD and ACCEPT_EULA items must be set or the container instance of SQL Server will not start. Ref: Quickstart: Run SQL Server container images with Docker -

Discuss this question and answer on the forums




Database Pros Who Need Your Help

Here's a few of the new posts today on the forums. To see more, visit the forums.

SQL Server 2017 - Development
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SQL Server 2016 - Administration
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Multiple database ID for single DB in sys.dm_os_buffer_descriptors?? - Hey guys.  I use sys.dm_os_buffer_descriptors to get a sense of what percentage each database is consuming.  This is SQL server 2016 (13.0.5149.0).  I just noticed something funny in the results in that one of my databases has two different database IDs!  The legit ID for this database is 15 and the "hidden" one is 29. […]
Anyone have a script to monitor index rebuilds? - I poked around online and could not find anything very useful which would return basic info relating to index maintenance (% complete). I know I can fire up profiler and see activity that way, I am curious if there is a script that exists.  I have reviewed and tried a few I have found online […]
SQL Server 2016 - Development and T-SQL
delete last 9 h - I have  this query                    DELETE r FROM PBRecord r WITH (ROWLOCK)             WHERE r.pbRecordId = @MinId  OPTION (RECOMPILE);               it last 9 h !!. on powerfull server SQL server 2016 SP2 ,128 GB RAM attached execution plan please help  me to reduce the time! Thanks., Regards,   Hadrian
Browser serice - Hi All, My question on SQL Browser Service. During sql 2016 installation, I see a dialog where we need to specify the service accounts and passwords. I see by default, the Browser is disabled. we are setting an Availability groups on two nodes. My question is that, does the SQL Browser needs to be enable […]
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Development - SQL Server 2014
Query to return last row for each unique value on a column - Hi there, is it possible to get one line for each unique value (last one inserted) just show me the way dont give me the code please. thanks  
SQL Server 2012 - T-SQL
Split Comma Separated Values to Column - Hi Guys, I have one task and i need to build the logic to split the columns by comma, see below for table definition CREATE TABLE #X1 (SCHID VARCHAR(250)) INSERT INTO #X1 VALUES ('101,102,103,104,105,106,107') The desired output should be, ID AdditionalIds 101 102|103|104|105|106|107 Can you please help me to build this? I appropriate for your […]
SAP_UserPassword in SQL Agent job using SSIS - Hi, I have a sql agent job thet runs a SSIS Package and the SAP_Userpassword parameter value needs to be changed.   when I change it to the value found in the SSIS Enviroment I get following message   "Errors were detected in the command line arguments, please make sure all arguments are set correctly. […]
SQL Azure - Administration
Saving sys.resource_stats in AZURE DB - We have multiple SQL DBs on AZURE  - and the server has a virtual master DB. I have the correct rights to connect to it and can look at sys.resource_stats. I have a requirement to save this data to make calculations for internal usage and costing purposes. I've used scoped credentials to use sp_execute_remote on […]
Reporting Services
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