1406.0.55.003 - Responsible Use of ABS Microdata, User Guide  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/07/2019   
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ABS microdata (unit record data) must be stored in a manner that ensures unauthorised access does not occur. You must securely store the following microdata and outputs, whether in electronic form or hard copy:

  • Basic Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs)
  • working files and output from basic CURFs that include unit record data
  • output from the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) that has been released with a 'Keep secure' condition (see below for further information)
  • tabulations containing less than 3 unweighted contributing sample unit records
  • details of unusual unit records that require special analysis in modelling


Aggregate outputs from your basic CURF research may be shared or published. Examples of outputs that do not reveal microdata and are not required to remain in a secure environment include:
  • tabulations containing cells with 3 or more unweighted contributing sample units
  • details of fitted models, such as regression parameters
  • summary and test statistics from estimates
  • linear and non-linear regression coefficients
  • RADL outputs automatically returned to the user, not labelled 'Keep Secure'


The following requirements apply for microdata and outputs which must be kept secure.
  • Any computer on which ABS microdata is stored must be kept in a locked room and/or have password protection to prevent access by others.
  • Any information or results stored on a computer network must be kept in a directory with suitably restricted access.
  • Any printouts or physical media containing microdata (such as a CD-ROM provided by the ABS) must be kept in a locked room or secured in a locked cabinet when the researcher is not present.
  • You must keep track of datasets and printouts that reveal microdata, so that they can be destroyed when they are no longer needed.
  • You must immediately report any security incidents relating to microdata to the ABS.
  • You must comply with any instructions from the ABS relating to the storage of microdata.
  • Your organisation must provide a secure means to delete computer files so microdata cannot be recovered by an unauthorised person.


DataLab output and working files that are within the DataLab system must not be removed or shared with any other person. This includes not capturing any on-screen information or discussing uncleared DataLab output with users who have not been approved for that microdata or project.

To use or share DataLab output outside the DataLab system, you must request clearance of any DataLab output by an ABS officer. DataLab output that has been cleared by the ABS may be shared or published and does not need to be securely stored.

DataLab projects may involve collaboration with other researchers in your organisation or in other organisations. See Collaborating on microdata research for further information about how you can work safely with DataLab collaborations and project workspaces.


The RADL may hold output if it fails automated system protections, which an ABS officer will review. If the ABS officer decides that the output can be released to the user, but is too detailed for general release, the file will be provided as 'Keep Secure' output. This classification requires that the output be treated as highly confidential at all times. 'Keep Secure' output includes any printouts of unit record information, as well as analytical output that has been designated as 'Keep Secure'. 'Keep Secure' output cannot be shared between users who do not have access to the source microdata, nor with users in other organisations unless approval has been provided by the ABS. Such output may be used in further analysis, but cannot be published.