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Census Bureau Continues to Boost Data Safeguards

Tue Jul 30 2019
Written by: Ron Jarmin, Deputy Director, US Census Bureau
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The U.S. Census Bureau takes its responsibility for data stewardship very seriously. As discussed in a previous blog “Census Bureau Adopts Cutting Edge Privacy Protections for 2020 Census,” we are working diligently to honor our sworn oath to keep respondent data strictly confidential by implementing differential privacy for our 2020 Census data products.

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The Census Bureau is rigorously testing this modernization of our disclosure avoidance methods for 2020 Census products. Because the decennial count is top priority, these data products will be the Census Bureau's differential privacy focus for the near future.

The data user community has raised many questions about the impact the adoption of differential privacy may have on the data products generated by the American Community Survey (ACS). ACS data products are critical to public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Given the complexity of implementing differential privacy for a complex survey like the ACS, we anticipate that the earliest we would implement differential privacy for the ACS would be 2025. 

The solutions will be thoroughly vetted within the scientific and user communities. We will continue to apply the vigorous traditional disclosure avoidance methods we have always applied to ACS. Those methods are reviewed and strengthened every year, and meet the high standards of the Census Bureau's Disclosure Review Board.

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