1504.0 - Methodological News, Jun 2012  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/07/2012   
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Symposium on the Confidentiality of Linked Data and Visits by Jörg Drechsler and Natalie Schlomo

A key objective of the ABS is to increase access to the data collected by Commonwealth government agencies. Large amounts of data are collected by government agencies that could be used in the development and evaluation of policy for the benefit of society. It is therefore no surprise that there is very strong demand from analysts, within business, government, universities, and other organisations, to access such data. Many important questions can only be answered by analysts if they are allowed to analyse linked micro-data, a key example of which is the linkage of personal or organisation level data that were collected by two commonwealth agencies. However, agencies are often legally obliged to ensure that such analysis is unlikely to disclose information about a particular person or organisation.

The ABS is developing the infrastructure and statistical methods required to link micro-data, to facilitate analysts’ access to the linked data and to manage the associated disclosure risk. Linked micro-data often have complex (e.g. hierarchical and longitudinal) structures which require sophisticated models to analyse. To explore and promote discussion on these issues the ABS recently organised three key events.

1. The ABS hosted a symposium on “The Disclosure Risk of Linked and Longitudinal Data” on the 27th April at its Central Office in Canberra. The symposium was designed to draw speakers with a wide range of perspectives.

    · Mr. Mike Camden, Senior Methodologist at Statistics New Zealand
    · Dr. James Chipperfield, Australian Bureau of Statistics and Senior Research Fellow of University of Wollongong
    · Dr. Tim Churches, Sax Institute
    · Professor David Lawrence, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia
    · Dr. Christine O’Keefe, Science Leader for Privacy and Confidentiality in CSIRO
    · Dr. Natalie Shlomo, Senior Lecturer, University of Southampton
    · Ms. Nicole Watson, Deputy Director of Survey Methodology for the Survey of Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA)

2. During Natalie Shlomo’s visit to ABS, she gave short courses on record linkage and statistical disclosure control and held discussions with staff. The courses and discussions were well received.

3. Jörg Drechsler from the Institute for Employment Research in Germany, presented a workshop on “Releasing Synthetic Data to Protect Confidentiality” at ABS’ Central Office in Canberra on the 10th and 11th of May. While the ABS has not to date released synthetic data for public use, it is being considered for linked micro-data. The workshop and discussions with Jörg were particularly beneficial in this regard.

Further Information
For more information, please contact James Chipperfield (02 6252 7301, james.chipperfield@abs.gov.au)