Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.19, No.4, 2003. pp. 321331

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The Eleventh Morris Hansen Lecture Information and Statistical Data: A Distinction With a Difference

We distinguish between information about individuals and ⁢statistical data&xit;, a representation of information that does not identify any individual. Implications of this distinction are: (1) neither privacy nor confidentiality pertains to statistical data but rather to information; (2) individuals may have the right to control their information, but not the right to control statistical data derived from that information; (3) information should be protected by providers from release, but statistical data need to be safeguarded with sanctions on users; (4) zero tolerance can be a standard for the release of information, but, for statistical data, the standard must be to exercise reasonable care so that the risk of an identification is very small. Finally, we discuss how recent legislation in the U.S. can be used to strengthen confidentiality, increase research access to statistical and other data, and make available more useful statistical data.

Confidentiality; data access; privacy; research data; statistical purposes.

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