The anatomy of disclosure risk in a world of linked population data (WP4)

Data Stewardship Organisations (DSOs) are charged with producing useful data products whilst minimising the risk of disclosure of personal information. Work in this area has traditionally focused on the disclosure risk associated with census and survey outputs in the context of other information that an ‘intruder’ might use to identify persons and households.

We address how such disclosure risks must be reconsidered in the rapidly changing linked data environment, in which extensive geographically and temporally referenced data about persons, addresses and households can be combined in analytically powerful ways. Despite current excitement over the potential of data linkage, for example as a replacement for a traditional census from 2021, remarkably little is understood about the anatomy of this new universe of disclosure risks, particularly which sources and linkages present the greatest risks and how they might best be mitigated.

Addressing these questions involve a fusing of data environment analysis with traditional statistical disclosure control techniques. We investigate both new analytical methods for such data, particularly for understanding spatial associations, and the development of relevant privacy analytics.


Creating Research Data Policy in a Changing Data Landscape: A Workshop held on 16th January 2018 in London




Mark Elliot
David Martin

Natalie Shlomo

Duncan Smith