As you know, many social disparities are identified, studied, and addressed by analyzing census data. However, in an effort to protect privacy, the Census Bureau plans to use new mathematical processes to alter 2020 census data. The Census Bureau will not make precise alteration processes public but they are taking public comment on the issue. Of great importance (beyond increasing knowledge of health disparities based on race, gender, age, and geography) is the effect it will have on redistricting and on equitable distribution of public funds. For an explanation of this process and its effects on redistricting see
|Differential Privacy for Census Data Explained|
The U.S. Census Bureau has had a longstanding requirement to ensure data from individuals and households remains confidential. For the 2020 census, it plans to use a new approach: “differential privacy.” This webpage provides background. the current status of decision-making for implementing differential privacy, questions data users may want to consider and more.
While differential privacy is intended to protect confidentiality for respondents, it has implications for smaller subpopulations. For instance, the National Congress of American Indians notes, “The implementation of differential privacy could introduce substantial amounts of noise into statistics for small populations living in remote areas, potentially diminishing the quality of statistics about tribal nations.”
For researchers and others wanting to learn more about how the Census Bureau will “jitter” the data, watch this 12 minute video.
|Protecting Privacy with MATH (Collab with the Census) – This video was made in collaboration with the US Census Bureau and fact-checked by Census Bureau scientists.|
Those who are interested in how the bureau balances confidentiality and usability—or, in census parlance, how the “privacy loss budget” should be allocated—can provide comments to the bureau through its data demonstration project, firstname.lastname@example.org.
While there is no cutoff date for comments, a final decision will be made by fall 2020. Comments received in the spring will be easier for the bureau to incorporate.