New Confidentiality Protections & the Implications for Data Users

The Census Bureau is a steward of the data it collects: the agency is tasked with deciding how to best produce meaningful statistics while ensuring that the statistics do not disclose, or allow others to discover, confidential information about individual respondents. The Census Bureau has a legal obligation to protect confidentiality and recognizes that unacceptable levels of confidentiality loss may undermine the public’s trust in the bureau and people’s willingness to participate in future censuses. Starting with the 2020 Census, the bureau will modernize its protections by adopting a mathematical definition of confidentiality called “differential privacy.” Differential privacy offers notable benefits, including robust and measurable guarantees of confidentiality