Data access versus privacy: an analytical user’s perspective


  • Ugo Trivellato Università degli Studi di Padova



The issue of privacy versus data access is at the crossroads where two sets of considerations meet: (I) the traditional concern of official statistical agencies for confidentiality, both for ethical reasons and as a guarantee of maintaining respondents’ collaboration; (II) the more recent and broader concern about data protection, that extends to all kinds of personal data and their uses. The paper takes the point of view of an analytical user, i.e. of a person wanting to (collect and chiefly) process micro data for statistical/research purposes. It focuses on some basic features of the issue and on their policy implications. First of all the societal role of statistics and research and their intrinsic needs are considered (section 2). Indeed, they are the basis for motivating a ‘credit of confidentiality ’ when personal data are processed for statistical/research purposes. Some basic principles and guideline for regulating this credit of confidentiality, as they are set out in recent international recommendations and regulations, are then summarised (section 3). Statistical, technological and legal devices, and related practices, for protecting confidentiality while allowing the processing of micro data for statistical/research purposes are briefly reviewed (section 4). The state of the affairs at the level of the EU is finally discussed, as regard both rules and practices followed by Eurostat and draft legislation (Section 5). The concluding remarks stress the need for additional efforts to make micro databases widely available to researchers.

How to Cite

Trivellato, U. (2013). Data access versus privacy: an analytical user’s perspective. Statistica, 60(4), 669–689.