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Principle 6 - Confidentiality

Individual data collected by statistical agencies for statistical compilation, whether they refer to natural or legal persons, are to be strictly confidential and used exclusively for statistical purposes.

Reliable official statistics depend on public co-operation and goodwill to provide accurate and timely information requested in surveys. Such co-operation and goodwill is maintained by protecting the

confidentiality of information provided by respondents. Key aspects of confidentiality protection are maintaining information securely, avoiding release of identifiable information in statistical outputs, managing

access to microdata for statistical research, and ensuring that individual information is used solely for statistical purposes. Without such co-operation, response rates can be too low and threaten the accuracy of the statistics, or legal enforcement may be required. In many countries, the requirements for protecting confidentiality and restrictions on use of individual data are set out in

statistics legislation (see Principle 7)

As well as the need to maintain public confidence that confidential information will be kept as such and used solely for statistical purposes, there is the extra issue of

privacy . All surveys represent a degree of intrusion, which must be justified on the basis of the need for public information on issues of importance.