Open Access
August, 1991 Enhancing Access to Microdata While Protecting Confidentiality: Prospects for the Future
George T. Duncan, Robert W. Pearson
Statist. Sci. 6(3): 219-232 (August, 1991). DOI: 10.1214/ss/1177011681


This article presents a scenario for the future of research access to federally collected microdata. Many researchers find access to government databases increasingly desirable. The databases themselves are more comprehensive, of better quality and-with improved database management techniques--better structured. Advances in computer communications enable remote access to these databases. Substantial gains in the performance/cost ratio of computers permit more sophisticated analyses--including ones based on statistical graphics, identification of extreme or influential values, record linkage and Bayesian regression methods. At the same time, the individuals and institutions that provide the data residing on government databases--as well as the agencies who sponsor the collection of such information--are becoming increasingly aware that the same technologies that extend analytical capabilities also furnish tools that threaten the confidentiality of data records. As the broker between the data provider and the data user, government agencies are under increased pressure to implement policies that both increase data access and ensure confidentiality. In response to these cross-pressures, agencies will more actively pursue statistical, administrative and legal approaches to responsible data dissemination. Recent developments in these approaches are discussed as they relate to improvements in database techniques, computer and analytical methodologies and legal and administrative arrangements for access to and protection of federal statistics.


Download Citation

George T. Duncan. Robert W. Pearson. "Enhancing Access to Microdata While Protecting Confidentiality: Prospects for the Future." Statist. Sci. 6 (3) 219 - 232, August, 1991.


Published: August, 1991
First available in Project Euclid: 19 April 2007

Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/ss/1177011681

Keywords: data access , disclosure limitatio , federal statistical system , masking , privacy

Rights: Copyright © 1991 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.6 • No. 3 • August, 1991
Back to Top