Differential Privacy in the 2020 Census- Confidentiality Protections and Data Implications

Posted on November, 2019
Created by Georgetown Poverty Center


The Census Bureau is modernizing how it protects the confidentiality of census responses. Confidentiality protections for the 2020 Census relies on “differential privacy” (or “formal privacy”). Differential privacy allows the bureau to provide robust and measurable confidentiality protections against the evolving challenges presented by advances in computer science and the growing availability of personal information online and from commercial providers. Like all disclosure avoidance methods, differential privacy involves a trade-off between confidentiality and the utility of published statistics. The more statistics that are published, and the closer those statistics match the underlying, confidential data, the greater the risk to the confidentiality of individual respondents. Researchers, civil rights groups, and other data users should actively engage in Census Bureau consultations about which data products and statistics to publish.

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United Way of Greater Houston 2020 Census Response Grant