Methods for Reducing Disclosure Risks When Sharing Data
Defining the Problem: Disclosure Risk and Data Utility
Any data access policy
implicitly involves a trade off between disclosure risks and data
usefulness. One end of the spectrum is providing
unfettered access to the data as collected (highest risk and highest
usefulness); the other end of the spectrum is not disseminating
any data (lowest risk and lowest usefulness). Most groups' data
access policies fall somewhere in between these extremes. To
understand this trade off, we recommend the following
1. ASA Briefings of
Congressional Staffers and Others in Government
This PowerPoint presentation, given on the Hill by members of the ASA
Committee on Privacy and Confidentiality, gives an overview of the role
statisticians play in balancing data access and data confidentiality.
2. G. T.
Duncan, S. A. Keller-McNulty, and S. L. Stokes (2001) "Disclosure Risk vs. Data
Utility: The R-U Confidentiality Map"
Lays out the problem of data dissemination as a trade off between risk
3. J. M. O' Rourke (2003) "Disclosure
Limitation at ICPSR."
Describes the issues of privacy and confidentiality, and how ICPSR
handles them at Michigan.
4. National Research Council
(2005), Expanding Access to
Research Data: Reconciling Risks and Opportunities,
National Research Council (1993), Private
Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality, Accessibility of Government
of disclosure risk measurement, statistical and technical approaches to
balancing the risk-utility trade off.
The 1993 report was one of the first summaries of the issues in
protecting confidentiality of data. We recommend starting with
the 2005 report.
Statistical Disclosure Control (2005)
Definitions of terms used in privacy and confidentiality. Developed by the European
7. Introduction to data dissemination
from the International Household Survey Network
Easy to follow introduction to the risk/utility trade off and to data access solutions.
8. Chance magazine, winter 2004 (link not available).
This special issue contains articles providing overviews of a variety
of topics in privacy and confidentiality, including the risk/usefulness trade off. Articles are written for the general public.