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Confidentiality issues in the EU Population and Housing Censuses of 2011

Jan Beise
8. Privacy and confidentiality of information
By the Statistical Office of the European Communities and by Statistics Netherlands, 2009.

The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have adopted in 2008 the Regulation (EC) No 763/20081 on population and housing censuses, acknowledging the Conference of European Statisticians Recommendations for the 2010 Censuses of Population and Housing. This Regulation states that "Member States shall take all measures necessary to meet the requirements of data protection. The Member States' own data protection provisions shall not be affected by this Regulation." The transmission of data subject to statistical confidentiality is governed by specific EU regulations, ensuring the physical and logical protection of confidential data and that no unlawful disclosure or non-statistical use occurs when Community statistics are produced and disseminated. In particular, the new "EU Statistical Law" devotes an entire chapter to statistical confidentiality. In other words, what is considered confidential at national level, it remains confidential once transmitted to Eurostat and, if a country wants to transmit confidential data, this has to be done in accordance with the EU regulations in force.

The programme for data dissemination that Eurostat is implementing for the census round 2011 is based on an innovative approach. The basic data input is in the form of hypercubes, which are multidimensional tables with several dimensions. The size of these hypercubes has an impact on confidentiality issues: while for a set of predefined common bi- or tri-dimensional tables the disclosure control for census data could be considered (relatively) feasible to implement, such control becomes a real challenge as more dimensions are added.

Paper presented at the joint UNECE/Eurostat meeting on Population and Housing Censuses, Geneva, 28-30 October 2009.


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