Title: "‘It's None of Their Damn Business’: Privacy and Disclosure Control in the U.S. Census, 1790-2020."
Abstract: The U.S. Census Bureau is implementing new methods of disclosure control that will reduce the usability of publicly accessible population data. To understand the rationale for the cutbacks in access to data, we must grapple with the history of privacy concerns surrounding the census and the government’s response to those concerns. This paper traces the history of privacy and disclosure control since the first U.S. census in 1790. We argue that controlling public access to census information has never been an effective response to public concerns about government intrusion. We conclude that the Census Bureau should weigh the costs of curtailing access to reliable data against realistic measures of the benefit of new approaches to disclosure control.
*Co-host: CUNY's Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)