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The future of statistical disclosure control

by   Mark Elliot, et al.

Statistical disclosure control (SDC) was not created in a single seminal paper nor following the invention of a new mathematical technique, rather it developed slowly in response to the practical challenges faced by data practitioners based at national statistical institutes (NSIs). SDC's subsequent emergence as a specialised academic field was an outcome of three interrelated socio-technical changes: (i) the advent of accessible computing as a research tool in the 1980s meant that it became possible - and then increasingly easy - for researchers to process larger quantities of data automatically; this naturally increased demand for such data; (ii) it became possible for data holders to process and disseminate detailed data as digital files and (iii) the number of organisations holding data about individuals proliferated. This also meant the number of potential adversaries with the resources to attack any given dataset increased exponentially. In this article, we describe the state of the art for SDC and then discuss the core issues and future challenges. In particular, we touch on SDC and big data, on SDC and machine learning, and on SDC and anti-discrimination.


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