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Measuring Identification Risk in Microdata Release and Its Control by Post-randomization

Tapan K. Nayak, Cheng Zhang, and Jiashen You
Component ID: #ti761449657


Statistical agencies often release a masked or perturbed version of survey data to protect respondents' confidentiality. Ideally, a perturbation procedure should protect confidentiality without much loss of data quality, so that released data may practically be treated as original data for making inferences. One major objective is to control the risk of correctly identifying any respondent's records in released data, by matching the values of some identifying or key variables. For categorical key variables, we propose a novel approach to measuring identification risk and setting strict disclosure control goals. The general idea is to ensure that the probability of correctly identifying any respondent or surveyed unit is at most ξ , which is pre- specified. Then, we develop an unbiased post-randomization procedure that achieves this goal for ξ > 1 / 3. The procedure allows substantial control over possible changes to the original data and the variance it induces is of a lower order of magnitude than sampling variance. We apply the procedure to a real data set, where it performs consistently with the theoretical results and quite importantly, shows very little data quality loss.

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