ERIC Number: ED317169
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989
Reference Count: N/A
Improving Access to Data While Protecting Confidentiality: Prospects for the Future.
Duncan, George T.; Pearson, Robert W.
Providing researchers, especially those in the social sciences, with access to publicly collected microdata furthers research while advancing public policy goals in a democratic society. However, while technological improvements have eased remote access to these databases and enabled computer using researchers to perform sophisticated statistical analyses, they have also increased the likelihood that individual records can be re-identified. Government agencies that sponsor the collection of microdata files containing personal and sensitive data are under increased pressure to form policies that allow continued improvements in data access while protecting subject confidentiality. Based on recent developments, this paper reflects on what the near future holds for the resolution of this issue in five arenas: statistical, computer, legal, administrative, and ethical. In the statistical arena, agencies will develop methods of masking data through disclosure limiting and linear affine masking approaches. Electronic gatekeepers and monitors for remote access will be applied in the computer arena. Legal involvement will include legislation that ensures research access and provides sanctions for improper data use. In the administrative arena, agencies will place more responsibility on researchers as data stewards. Finally, ethical concerns will be addressed by developing a researcher's code of conduct. (32 references) (NRP)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A