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4.04 Other Applicable Laws and Regulations

In addition to the specific census laws pertaining to the confidential treatment of individual data, various other laws provide penalties for the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information.

Included are Sections 1902 relating to agriculture information, and 1905 of Title 18, U.S.C. (The Criminal Code), and Section 176a of Title 15, U.S.C. pertaining to foreign trade statistics.

Foreign Regulation No. 30.5 and Statistical Decision No. 75 (18 Fed. Reg. 4061) provide that data from export declarations may not be disclosed to other than the exporter or his agent without the written consent of the Secretary of Commerce.

5. BACKGROUND AND USE OF TERM "CENSUS CONFIDENTIAL" "Census Confidential" is a term applied to data accorded special treatment for the purpose of the protection of the individual respondent rather than for purposes of national security.

The term “Census Confidential" has been used by the Bureau of the Census to identify information it is legally and morally bound to-refrain from disclosing except as statistical totals or as otherwise authorized.

The Bureau informs each respondent through a statement on the schedule that the data he furnishes is required by law to be kept in strict confidence.

The reputation the Bureau enjoys for nondisclosure of data is a major factor in obtaining the cooperation of respondents.


Bureau forms and schedules directing inquiries to the public shall carry a statement that the information supplied will be kept confidential and a reference shall be made to Title 13, United States Code, and the section authorizing the inquiry. Following are examples of such statements:

a. “This inquiry is authorized by Act of Congress (Title 13, United States Code, Section —). This act required that individual returns to the Bureau of the Census be held confidential. Only totals and summaries of census returns will be published in such a way that the return made by any one individual will not be revealed. Your census reports will not be used for purposes of taxation, regulation, or investigation."

b. "This inquiry is authorized by law (Title 13, United States Code, Section —). Your report is accorded confidential treatment subject to the provisions of law. Your census report will not be used for purposes of taxation,

investigation, or regulation." Although documents prepared in processing data, such as transcription sheets, generally do not bear imprint as to confidentiality, they are to be treated as Census Confidential.

The procedure for marking and releasing unpublished nonconfidential Census Bureau information is contained in Chapter G 1.


When "Census Confidential” records are no longer needed by the Bureau of the Census and have no historical or research value, they are to be disposed of by one of the following:

a. Sold as waste paper when there is no danger of disclosure of the contents, or when treated to preclude disclosure, b. Destroyed outright depending upon the circumstances by

(1) Burning,
(2) Shredding,
(3) Reduction to pulp.


The authority and responsibility for carrying out the policy and practices prescribed in this Chapter are delegated to the head of each division and office having custody of, or access to, “Census Confidential” data.

By direction : ROBERT W. BURGESS.
Dated: February 29, 1956.



(For filing with Ch. C2, Census Administrative Manual) 1. Purpose of surveys.—National Health Surveys are conducted for the U.S. Public Health Service to obtain accurate and current statistics as to the amount, distribution, and effects of illness and disability in the United States, and the health services received as a result of these conditions.

2. Participation by Bureau of the Census.—The Bureau of the Census is cooperating in the surveys by collecting and compiling the data for the Public Health Service.

3. Nondisclosure of information.—National Health Surveys involve obtaining on a continuing basis details of the personal health records of a large number of individuals throughout the Nation. The Public Health Service has given assurance to the public that information identifying the individual will be held strictly confidential, will be used solely by persons engaged in and only for, the purposes of the survey, and will not be disclosed or released to other persons or for any other purpose. Bureau of the Census employees will observe this assurance of confidentiality and are subject to the Public Health Service as well as Department of Commerce and Bureau of the Census laws against unauthorized disclosures. In addition, the sworn statement or affidavit of nondisclosure each employee signs upon entering on duty pertains to National Health Surveys the same as to our other programs.

4. Subpena of records.-In the event of a record collected in the National Health Survey being subpenaed, any Bureau employee upon whom such subpena is served will communicate with the Director of the Census. Action to satisfy such subpena will be taken only as authorized by Public Health Service Regulation, Section 1.108 of Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations.

5. Penalties for unauthorized disclosure or falsification.—Unauthorized disclosure of individual information collected in the National Health Surveys is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, or imprisonment up to one year, or both (18 U.S.C. 1905).

Deliberate falsification by an employee of any information in the Survey is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, or imprisonment up to five years, or both (18 U.S.C. 1001).

By direction : ROBERT W. BURGESS.
Dated : April 18, 1957.



(By Robert L. Chartrand, information sciences specialist, Science Policy Research

Division, the Library of Congress, Legislative Reference Service, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 1967)

Beaney, William M. The right to privacy and American law. Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. XXXI, No. 2, Spring 1966 : 253–271.

Chartrand, Robert L. Information concerning the proposed federal data center. Washington, D.C. Library of Congress, Legislative Reference Service, August 10, 1964. 9 p.

Committee on the Preservation and Use of Economic Data (Chairman : Richard Ruggles). Report of the Committee on the Preservation and Use of Economic Data to the Social Science Research Council. Washington, D.C., April 1965. 43 p. plus Appendices.

Dunn, Edgar S., Jr. Review of proposal for a national data center. Office of Statistical Standards, Bureau of the Budget, Washington, D.C., December 1965. 40 p. plus Appendices.

The idea of a national data center and the issue of personal privacy. An address before the MENSA Society, New York, October 21, 1966. 23 p.

Gallagher, Cornelius E. Letter to Charles L. Schultze, Director of the Bureau of the Budget, December 1, 1966. News release, 8 p.

- Privacy subcommittee brings a sense of balance to technological growth and the right to privacy. Congressional Record, October 21, 1966. pp. 27521-27534. Dunn, Edgar S., Jr. Questions of invasion of privacy relating to the establishment of a national data center. Congressional Record, August 18, 1966, pp. 19099-19102.

Horton, Frank. Congressman Horton questions proposed computer center for federal data. Congressional Record, June 14, 1966. pp. 12487–12488.

Horton cites potential privacy invasion by proposed central data system. Congressional Record, August 5, 1966. pp. A4143-A4144.

Janssen, Richard F. Administration studies plan to centralize data, hopes to avoid “police-state” image. Wall Street Journal, November 11, 1966: 6.

Karst, Kenneth L. “The files" : legal controls over the accuracy and accessibility of stored personal data. Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. XXXI, No. 2, Spring, 1966 : 342–376.

Long, Edward V. The dossier. Congressional Record, August 5, 1966. pp. 17560– 17561.

The ultimate big brother. Congressional Record, May 9, 1966. pp. 9603– 9605.

Michael, Donald V. Speculations on the relation of the computer to individual freedom and the right to privacy. The George Washington Law Review, Vol. 33, No. 1, October 1964: 270_286.

Packard, Vance. Don't tell it to the computer. The New York Times Magazine, January 8, 1967: 44ff.

Reubhausen, Oscar M. and Orville G. Brim, Jr. Privacy and behavioral research. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 65, No. 7, November 1965 : 1184–1211.

Sharpening the tools of decision-making. Business Week, November 19, 1966: 82ff.

Shils, Edward. Privacy: its constitution and vicissitudes. Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. XXXI, No. 2, Spring 1966 : 281-306.

Task Force on the Storage of and Access to Government Statistics (Chairman: Carl Kaysen). Report of the task force to the Bureau of the Budget. Washington, D.C., October 1966. 26 p. plus Annex.

U.S. Congress. House. Special Subcommittee on Invasion of Privacy of the Committee on Government Operations. Special inquiry on invasion of privacy. Hearings before the Special Subcommittee on Invasion of Privacy. 89th Congress, 1st Session, June 24, 7, 23 and September 23, 1965. Washington, D.C., U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1966. 399 p.

U.S. Congress. House. Special Subcommittee on Invasion of Privacy of the Committee on Government Operations. The computer and invasion of privacy. Hearings before the Special Subcommittee on Invasion of Privacy. 89th Congress, 1st Session, July 26–28, 1966. Washington, D.C., U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1966. 318 p.

U.S. Congress. Senate. Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure of the Committee on the Judiciary. Invasions of privacy (government agencies), in 4 parts. Practice and Procedure, 89th Congress, 1st Session, February 18, 23, 24 and March 2–3, 1965 (Part 1), April 13, 27-29 and June 7, 1965 (Part 2), July 13–15, 19-21, 27 and August 9, 1965 (Part 3), October 18–20, 1965 and February 2-4, 1966 (Part 4). Washington, D.C., U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1965, 1966. 2082 p.


(By Robert L. Chartrand, information sciences specialist, Science Policy Re

search Division the Library of Congress, Legislative Reference Service, August 10, 1966, Washington, D.C.)

For several years, there has been discussion within the Federal government and by private groups regarding the growing need for a system or center for the preservation and use of economic data. Statistical data covering a broad spectrum of activities were being collected, stored, used, and often discarded by many Federal departments and agencies. In 1960, it was decided that a study of this critical area should be undertaken, and a Committee on the Preservation and Use of Economic Data was established by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).

RECOMMENDATIONS CONTAINED IN RUGGLES REPORT After four years of study the Committee, with Richard Ruggles serving as chairman, made its report to SSRC, which in turn submitted the statement to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget. A summarization of the recommendations stated :

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First, .. that the Bureau of the Budget, in view of its responsibility for the Federal statistics program, immediately take steps to establish a Federal Data Center . . . Second, that the Office of Statistical Standards . . . place increased emphasis on the systematic preservation in useable form of important data prepared by those agencies engaging in statistical programs. ... Third, that at an early date the Social Science Research Council convene representatives from research institutions and universities in order to develop an organization which can provide a clearing house and coordination of requests for data made by individual scholars from Federal agencies.”

The Ruggles report highlighted the significance of the electronic computer in statistical manipulation and storage, and cited the benefits and cost/performance considerations that must be assessed in the utilization of automatic data processing (ADP) in this type of activity. Emphasis also was placed on the need to assess correctly the ramifications of interagency use of statistical data. Of particular importance would be the need for compatibility and mutual supportability in data classification, storage, and retrieval.

A joint survey by the Bureau of the Budget and the National Archives revealed that within 20 selected agencies of the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, Interior, Treasury, Commerce, Health, Education and Welfare, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, over 600 major bodies of data existed.” These data were stored physically on approximately 30,000 computer tapes and 100 million punched cards. Access to these data poses many problems, due to the lack of supervision and coordination of data preservation techniques, widely varying criteria for statistical data retention, and the important consideration of data disclosure.

The recommendation dealing with the creation of a Federal Data Center recognized the essentiality of such a center having the authority to utilize the products (i.e., computer tapes, punched cards) of other Federal agencies. Computer capability within the Federal Data Center must be sufficient to be responsive to both the governmental agencies and outside users. In providing a broad base of services, it was pointed out that the Federal Data Center would function much as the Library of Congress in being responsible for providing "a systematic and comprehensive coverage of the material available in its areas of competence;" similarly, it would be functioning in the statistical area much as the Archives now does in the area of basic records and documents.

DUNN CRITIQUE OF RUGGLES REPORT Upon receipt of the Ruggles report in 1965, the Bureau of Budget Office of Statistical Standards arranged for Edgar S. Dunn, Jr. of Resources for the Future, Inc., to examine the report and to study ways of implementing it. Emphasis was placed upon the first two recommendations quoted above. Mr. Dunn not only concentrated upon the Bureau of Budget concern with the use of statistical data for research, policy and decision making at all levels (within and outside Government), but also broadened his scrutiny of the subject area to include consideration of the relationships between the collecting and compiling processes on one hand, and preservation and accessibility for further use on the other.

Mr. Dunn identified the central problem as: “... one of associating numerical records and the greatest deficiency of the existing Federal Statistical System is its failure to provide access to data in a way that permits the association of the elements of data sets in order to identify and measure the interrelationship among interdependent or related observations."

In supporting the recommendation for the establishment of a Federal Data Center, the Dunn report underscores the fact that general purpose data are always used to fill special purpose needs. Files must be constructed on the basis of carefully delineated standards, maintained in effective condition and serviced by institutional arrangements and a technical system capability that will allow it to be revised or combined, as necessary, with other files according to the needs of the system users. Thus, the key to these substantial problems does not reside in the assembly of many records in a single repository, but in the capacity to provide certain forms of file management and utilization services to the users of the system.

1 Edgar S. Dunn, Jr., "Review of Proposal for National Data Center," (Washington, D.C.. December 1965), preface.

2 Richard Ruggles, chairman. "Report of the Committee on the Preservation and Use of Economic Data to the Social Sciences Research Council" (April 1965), p. 15.

3 Ibid., p. 20.
4 Dunn Report, op. cit., p. 1.

The need for centralization of function can be achieved, in the view of Mr. Dunn, through new legislative authority. In this way, the service center can receive file custody of information that will relieve the agencies of their disclosure restrictions as they pertain to the release of data to the center; at the same tim the agency's disclosure obligations are transferred to the Federal data center. The location of such a center, and the establishment of its operation under the proper aegis are discussed by Mr. Dunn, with several alternatives presented.

Although Mr. Dunn sets forth many recommendations, he assigns a high priority to two efforts which could be undertaken at once :

1. Development of standards to shape the content of archival records and determine the essential forms of file maintenance and documentation; and

2. The 9,000 tape nucleus identified in a special study by Rudolph C. Mendelssohn could be achieved quickly at a cost of approximately $260,000, with funding from the participating agencies."

The initial Federal Data Center tape holdings could include, for example, 750 reels of the Census Housing data, 375 reels of Census Current Population, 43 reels containing the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Expenditure Survey, 36 reels of the BLS industry, hours, earnings, and labor turnover data, Internal Revenue Service tax data on 5,300 reels, and the Bureau of Old Age and Survivors' Insurance social security data on 1,900 reels.

It should be noted that there has been much discussion during the past few years both in the public press and by Congress concerning the maintenance of information about private citizens by government agencies. The Subcommittee on the Invasion of Privacy of the House Government Operations Committee has initiated an examination of Federal Government maintenance of “data banks.” There are several salient factors regarding the protection of privileged data, and in particular the safeguards which might be utilized, which warrant further discussion.

SAFEGUARDS AGAINST UNINTENTIONAL DISCLOSURE Since much of the information collected from individuals and groups (e.g., business concerns) is obtained on a confidential basis, the safeguarding of this data is important. Dunn points out, however, that: “The structural problems of concern to today's policy makers and the effort to by-pass problems of record incompatibility force the utilization of data at levels of disaggregation that place severe strains upon regulations restricting the disclosure of information about individual respondents.'

Several positive safeguards may be enumerated which could serve to lessen the chance of unintentional disclosure:

1. Legislative and administrative regulations, already in effect in some agencies, could be augmented and strengthened.

2. Establishment of uniform, multi-agency criteria controlling "need-to-know" both for government and other data users.

3. More explicit explanation of the scope and nature of the data available, thus reducing the number of unnecessary or illogical requests by users.

4. Creation and uniform use of classification and coding systems, to include the assignment of unique accession codes and indicators to privileged data elements.

5. Establishment of an expert in-house group for receiving, transcribing, and refining the request for information from the system according to the needs of the users and existing regulations.

6. Employment of “a number of servicing procedures based upon computer technology that can satisfy the needs of the user in most cases without violating disclosure regulations".:

7. In some instances, data reduction by design can be performed, thus transforming absolute figures to percentages, increments to gross and vice versa, etc.

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8. Anonymous sampling, with the removal of identifying data elements already has been used; here again the need for a uniform Federal set of procedures and criteria is apparent.

5 Ibid., p. 39.
6 Ibid., appendix B.
7 Ibid., summary, p. 2.
8 Ibid., p. 10.

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